A renewed call to have American astronauts visit Mars was published in an essay by President Obama. In the essay Obama stated, “We have a set clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars, by the 2030s and returning them safely to earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended period of time.”
The president’s goal has been presented before, at a 2010 speech that took place at the Kennedy Space Center of NASA; located in Florida. This time around, there were more details into the planned project, which was accessible through a joint blog post from NASA officials and senior White House. It included the U.S. expectations of reaching the red planet.
In August of this year, six companies were awarded contracts by NASA to develop habitats, which would be able to sustain the astronauts that were on deep-space missions. One of the missions would be Mars. Tuesday, an announcement was made by the NASA administrator, Charles F. Bolden Jr. and John P. Holdren, a White House science adviser. The announcement informed that modules from private companies would be allowed for the International Space Station.
Officials for NASA made note that the space station was beginning to test new technologies within the stretch of space, from the earth to the moon. Despite their advances, there are challenges that still remain.
Some people question if the space trip is even possible. NASA has been preparing for decades to successfully complete this mission. For NASA, the mission is doable, but very difficult at the same time. The biggest battle is time and money. There is also concern about an astronaut’s risk (e.g. radiation), during a long journey.
When Nixon was president, the grand ambitions of NASA was pared back, which only left the space shuttle. Since 1972, there hasn’t been an astronaut venture beyond low-earth orbit. This followed the 12-day trip that the Apollo 17 crew took to the moon. In 1989, President George Bush announced an initiative to mark the 20th anniversary celebration of Apollo 11’s moon landing. The initiative would return the astronauts to the moon, which would lead to Mars. A half trillion dollar plan was created and presented by NASA; which eventually faded away. The current plan has nothing to do with technical. The primary issues is financial and political.