It wasn’t so long ago that the first earthlings walked on the moon. And according to NASA, it won’t be that long before the first people walk on Mars. The space agency said the first Mars astronauts are already alive.
“To help this nation send humans to deep space and return them to Earth safely, engineers across the country are developing a new space transportation capability, destined to travel far beyond our home planet. The Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket will be the most advanced space vehicles ever built. Together, they will take us farther into the solar system than humans have ever traveled. They are our spaceship to Mars and beyond.”
Before NASA brings a human to mars, they will first launch a robotic mission around 2019, called NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission where they will “capture and relocate an asteroid to a stable orbit around the moon, and send astronauts to return samples of it to Earth.”
By the mid 2020s, “astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft, launched by SLS, will explore that asteroid and return to Earth with samples.”
They’re going to give the moon its own tiny moon.
“Testing aboard the space station is helping us develop ways to break these Earth-reliant bonds, so astronauts can be more autonomous the farther into the solar system they explore. The ARM robotic mission and crewed mission to explore the asteroid will further advance these capabilities in the ‘Proving Ground’ between Earth and Mars, or what we call cis-lunar space—the area around the moon.”
NASA said that as of now, manned missions into space are still pretty “earth-reliant,” meaning crews are dependant on people on earth.
This is fine for the International Space Station and it was fine for the Apollo missions, but going deeper into space, such as to mars, astronauts will need to be more self-sufficient.
Testing these new technologies on the Asteroid Redirect Mission will give NASA tools to prep and then launch a mission to mars by the 2030s.
Mars, here we come.