NASA Reveals Early Plans to Send Two Astronauts to Surface of Mars

During a high-level discussion of NASA’s goals for human space exploration, we got an early look at what a 30-day crewed mission to Mars’ surface could eventually look like.

It’s an exciting prospect that, while many years, if not decades, away, demonstrates the agency’s dedication to realizing humanity’s dream of setting foot on Mars for the first time in history.

Kurt “Spuds” Vogel, NASA’s director of space architectures, described what such a mission might entail. To make the months-long journey there, the agency envisions a habitat spacecraft powered by a hybrid rocket stage that combines chemical and electric propulsion.

Two crew members would remain in orbit,

while the other two would travel to Mars’ surface. The latter would have access to supplies sent to the surface ahead of time via a 25-ton Mars lander, which would provide surface power and mobility, as well as a pre-deployed crew ascent vehicle to get them both back into orbit later.

Vogel suggests that the two crew members could spend up to an Earth month on the desolate Martian surface by living inside a pressurized rover that would provide habitation as well as allow them to complete scientific objectives.

“Our assumption here is the crew will be deconditioned,” Vogel said during the talk, “and we’ll need as much time to adapt to the partial gravity.”

NASA Reveals Early Plans to Send Two Astronauts to Surface of Mars

Gravity on Mars is only roughly a third of that on Earth.

“So we want to maximize the science so we allow them to drive around before they become conditioned enough to get in the space suits and walk and maximize that science in 30 days,” he added.

In the not-too-distant future,

missions to Mars could range from 30 days on the surface, which would take just under two Earth years to complete factoring in travel times, to nearly 500 days on the surface, long-stay missions that could take 916 days to complete.

Given the enormous logistics and costs involved, Vogel and his team concluded that 30 days on the surface was far more feasible.

NASA hopes to apply what we will eventually learn from exploring the Moon’s surface to spending time on Mars’ surface.

However, before any such missions can begin, the space agency faces a mountain of work. NASA is just getting ready to launch its Artemis I mission, an unmanned trip around the Moon and back, with the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft set to launch later this year.

From there, NASA intends to establish

a more permanent presence on the Moon, the Lunar Gateway, as a stepping stone for astronauts to be transferred to the surface, and eventually develop the Transit Habitat, a conceptual spacecraft meant to house astronauts on their much, much longer journey to Mars.

In other words, it could be a long time before we get a better idea of what a crewed journey to the Martian surface might look like.

However, NASA has clearly done its homework and is now seeking input and feedback on its ambitious timeline.

READ MORE: We Could Feed One Million People Living in Colonies on Mars

NASA Reveals Early Plans to Send Two Astronauts to Surface of Mars


One Response

  • I think we should be at Mars soon because if we don’t get there soon we never never will get there because of nuclear threats the Earth is getting dangerous and dangers of nuclear weapons

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