NASA Authorization Act of 2010
According to NASA, in 2010 the organization outlined the goals in the bipartisan NASA Authorization Act and the U.S. National Space Policy, to develop the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s. Over the last 40 yeas, robotic explorers have studied Mars. NASA’s path for human exploration of Mars began in low-Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station. Astronauts have been on the orbiting laboratory to help improve many of the technologies and communications systems needed for human missions to deep space, including Mars. The space station also advances our understanding of how the body changes in space and how to protect astronauts health (NASA.gov, 2014). Just how are they planning to do that?
NASA’s Powerful Space Launch Systems (SLS)
Our next step is deep space, where NASA will send a robotic mission to capture and redirect an asteroid to orbit the moon. Astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft will explore the asteroid in the 2020s, returning to Earth with samples. This experience in human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit will help NASA test new systems and capabilities, such as Solar Electric Propulsion, which we’ll need to send cargo as part of human missions to Mars. Beginning in FY 2018, NASA’s powerful Space Launch System rocket will enable these “proving ground” missions to test new capabilities. Human missions to Mars will rely on Orion and an evolved version of SLS that will be the most powerful launch vehicle ever flown (NASA.gov, 2014).
Mars, the Fascinating Red Planet – Canadian Space Agency (Infographic)
Engineers and scientists around the country are working hard to develop the technologies astronauts will use to one day live and work on Mars, and safely return home from the next giant leap for humanity (NASA.gov, 2014). According to NASA , a bipartisan bill was passed by the U.S. Senate committee that oversees NASA space projects. The bill would allocate $19.5 billion in funds to NASA in 2017, but it has a critical mission for the space agency: send men to Mars. Who knows, maybe will be able to see astronauts accomplish these goals in our lifetime. And maybe will be able to eat organic Martian grown potatoes like Matt Damon did in the Martian. One can dream.
Follow @NASA progress at www.nasa.gov/exploration and www.nasa.gov/mars.
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NASA.gov (2014). NASA’s Journey To Mars. NASA. Retrieved from: https://www.nasa.gov/content/nasas-journey-to-mars