NASA Releases Plans to Send Astronauts to Mars

A round trip to Mars takes 500 days.

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, WASHINGTON — The American Space Agency (NASA) released its main objectives for a 30-day Mars surface mission on Tuesday (17/5/2022). NASA is asking the public for feedback on how the plan is progressing.

Applications were originally due on May 31, but that deadline was recently extended to June 3.

Reported from Space, Wednesday (05/25/2022), NASA aims to launch astronauts to Mars in the late 2030s or early 2040s. Making that vision a reality will be a challenge.

Assuming funding and technology come into play at the right time, for example, the round trip time is still around 500 days considering the distance between Earth and Mars.

The absence of gravity would also be a problem. Because, today’s generation spaceships don’t look what they look like in movies like The Martian (2015). The astronauts will arrive on the Red Planet after months of microgravity and face a significant recovery path, even to operate in the partial gravity of Mars, which is roughly one-third that of Earth. NASA suggests that one way to work around this problem is to let the crew stay on the pressurized rover for the duration of their mission.

“We wanted to get the most out of science so we let them run around before they were conditioned enough to put on a spacesuit, and get up and running and get the most out of that science in 30 days,” Kurt Vogel, NASA’s director of space architecture, said in a YouTube video.

The mission plan is still in its early stages and could change greatly. But so far, NASA envisions using a habitat-like spacecraft to transport crews to the Red Planet, using a hybrid rocket stage (powered by chemical and electric propulsion).

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NASA has not yet issued a standard request for information or a formal contracting process for this mission concept. After all, the agency is focused on launching Artemis mission 1 unmanned to prepare for an astronaut mission to the moon in the 2020s. NASA says lunar work is critical to getting ready for Mars.

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