A manned mission to Mars in the 2030s looks to be a serious possibility according to experts. A group of experts say this is affordable, but some key changes are need if it is going to take place.
A workshop group of 60 individuals representing more than 30 government, academic, industry, and other organizations has found that a NASA-led manned mission to Mars is possible if the space agency’s budget is restored to pre-sequestration levels according to Space.com. Putting the first humans on Mars would also require international cooperation and private industry support.There is a growing consensus among key players in the space community that a manned mission to mars should be a priority worth working toward in the coming years, said Chris Carberry, the executive director of Explore Mars Inc., the organization that hosted the workshop with the American Astronautical Society.
“To be able to make it feasible and affordable, you need a sustainable budget,” Carberry told SPACE.com. “You need a budget that is consistent, that you can predict from year to year and that doesn’t get canceled in the next administration.”
While Carberry states that it is feasible to launch a manned mission to Mars by the 2030s under pre-sequestration budget levels, a NASA-led human mission to Mars will probably never launch under current budgetary constraints, Carberry said.
“We’re not far off from what we need,” Carberry said. “We just need to get back into a reasonable budget, which we’re not in right now.”
The workshop group’s plan relies partially upon the availability of NASA’s heavy-lifting rocket, the Space Launch System, and the space agency’s deep space crew capsule, the Orion spacecraft. Both the SLS and Orion are in development now, with Orion’s first unmanned test flight scheduled for later this year.
Carberry said that experts are still not sure whether a short or long mission to Mars would be best when launched the first manned mission.