We're going to Mars: Obama announces the U.S. aims to send people to the red planet by the 2030s - and Nasa bosses say work has already started on their 'deep space habitats'
- President announced on Tuesday that the U.S. will be partnering with private companies to send people to Mars in the next 15 years
- The goal is 'to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space'
- The president did not specify which private companies the government would be working with on these Mars missions
- Tesla founder Elon Musk's Space X company is planning to send people to Mars in the coming years
- NASA is currently developing a rocket called Space Launch System (SLS) for a Mars mission
- SLS' first mission, without humans on board, is set for 2018
- A mission to send humans into the area of space beyond the Moon, but not as far is Mars, is planned for the 2020s
Obama has vowed to help send people to Mars within the next 15 years
U.S. President Barack Obama has vowed to help send people to Mars within the next 15 years - and says more than 1,000 private firms will help them get there.
In an opinion piece for CNN, the president revealed his goals for space exploration in the foreseeable future, including a manned mission to the red planet by the 2030s and a safe return trip to Earth, along with the ‘ultimate ambition’ of a long-term stay.
Obama said that the U.S. government would be partnering with private companies to 'to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space.'
The piece precedes the White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh set to take place on Thursday, during which ‘scientists, engineers, innovators and students’ will team up to discuss future initiatives.
According to the president, there are over 1000 companies from almost every state working on private space initiatives.
‘We have set a 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 time,’ Obama wrote.
In the next two years, astronauts from private companies will be on their way to the International Space Station for the first time, he revealed.
The president wrote in an op-ed for CNN that travel to Mars (pictured) could lead to advances that 'make our lives better here on Earth
OBAMA'S DREAMS FOR MARS
In a 2010 speech at the Kennedy Space Centre, Barack Obama first said it should be possible to send astronauts to orbit Mars by the mid 2030s.
Now, he has expanded upon these views, stating that the goal remains getting humans to Mars by the 2030s.
‘The next step is to reach beyond the bounds of Earth’s orbit,’ the president wrote in an op-ed for CNN.
According to Obama, innovators are working 'to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space.
'These missions will teach us how humans can live far from Earth – something we’ll need for the long journey to Mars.’
Efforts such as this, along with the construction of deep space habitats, will help scientists accrue the necessary knowledge on the conditions of living outside of Earth’s orbit.
The op-ed comes just as White House Office of Science and Technology Policy director John Holdren and Nasa Administrator Charles Bolden released a blog post detailing the new efforts regarding space habitation.
Recently, they explain, six companies were granted awards to begin developing systems for the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships program.
‘The idea is that these habitats or ‘habs’ would evolve into spacecraft capable of sustaining and transporting astronauts on long duration space missions, like a mission to Mars,’ Holdren and Bolden explained.
Just two months ago, these companies were chosen to begin production of ground prototypes for deep space modules.
Along with this, they say innovators are also working to make strides for missions closer to home.
This fall, Nasa will begin a process to allow companies to add modules to the International Space Station to develop potential uses for a docking port, including preparation for the capabilities that could one day take over for the ISS when its mission ends in the 2020s.
In an op-ed for CNN, the president revealed his goals for space exploration in the foreseeable future, including a manned mission to the red planet and a safe return trip to Earth, and the ‘ultimate ambition’ of a long-term stay. Mars is pictured, as seen from the Hubble telescope
President Obama and the Nasa officials are all looking toward the ‘next frontier,’ with hopes that America will pave the way for future explorations and extended settlement on the red planet.
And, according to Obama, these advancements will unlock benefits on Earth as well.
‘If we make our leadership in space even stronger in this century than it was in the last, we won’t just benefit from related advances in energy, medicine, agriculture and artificial intelligence,’ President Obama explained, ‘we’ll benefit from a better understanding of our environment and ourselves.’
Traveling to Mars isn't just about exploring one more frontier, Obama wrote. He says that travel to Mars, like the Apollo missions before it, will help inspire a whole new general of scientists and engineers to 'keep America on the cutting edge'.
In the essay, President Obama wrote of his own memories as a child, waving a flag and welcoming astronauts back to Hawaii with his grandfather.
He hopes that the groundwork he's laid towards Mars missions will lead to similar moments with his own, future grandchildren.
'Someday, I hope to hoist my own grandchildren onto my shoulders. We'll still look to the stars in wonder, as humans have since the beginning of time. But instead of eagerly awaiting the return of our intrepid explorers, we'll know that because of the choices we make now, they've gone to space not just to visit, but to stay - and in doing so, to make our lives better here on Earth,' Obama wrote.
Obama did not elaborate on how the U.S. would fund these trips. Nor did he specify which commercial companies would be involved in the effort.
Reactions to the plan were mixed on Twitter, with some praising Obama (like Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane) to others who felt the investment in space travel wasn't worth the money
California-based SpaceX, headed by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, is also planning to send people to Mars in the coming years.
The firm says Obama's announcement today is an 'exciting' move for space initiatives, and they 'look forward' to being a part of the journey to Mars.
‘SpaceX was founded with the ultimate goal of helping make humans a multi-planetary species,’ SpaceX spokesperson Phil Larson told Dailymail.com.
‘As Elon said at his recent talk, it will take a combination of public and private efforts to build a self-sustaining city on Mars.
'It's exciting to see President Obama advocate for the next frontier in human space flight, and we look forward to participating in the journey.’
HOW NASA SAYS HUMANS WILL GET TO MARS
President Obama and Nasa revealed their plans today to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.
According to the space agency, this will occur over three ‘thresholds’ beginning between now and the mid-2020s, with each becoming increasingly challenging.
These steps will be: Earth Reliant, the Proving Ground, and Earth Independent.
This first threshold, Earth Reliant, will center on research aboard the International Space Station.
According to the space agency, the journey to Mars will occur over ‘thresholds’ beginning between now and the mid-2020s, with each becoming increasingly challenging. These steps will be: Earth Reliant, the Proving Ground, and Earth Independent
ISS astronauts will test the technologies and communication systems necessary for deep space missions, and they are already learning the challenges of living and working in space for long periods of time.
The second step, Proving Ground, will be a series of missions near the moon starting in November 2018.
In this area, called ‘cislunar space’ – a region that’s days away from Earth – researchers will test the capabilities that could allow humans to live and work on Mars.
The first mission, Exploration Mission -1, will rely on the new Space Launch System to carry the Orion spacecraft thousands of miles beyond the moon over roughly three weeks.
The second step, Proving Ground, will be a series of missions near the moon starting in November 2018
Then, astronauts will travel aboard Orion to participate in a similar mission, going ‘farther than humans have ever travelled before,’ according to Nasa.
The agency will also send astronauts on a yearlong mission in the 2020s to verify habitation and test readiness for Mars.
And, Nasa’s Asteroid Redirect Mission will use a robotic spacecraft to capture an asteroid boulder and redirect it into safe orbit around the moon.
This will allow astronauts to collect samples and bring them to Earth, and test both deep space spacewalking and Solar Electric Propulsion.
In the third stage, Earth Independent, the agency will use what it’s learned in the previous steps to send humans into low-Mars orbit. This is expected to take place in the early 2030s
This technology will be necessary to ship cargo for humans on Mars in the future.
In the third stage, Earth Independent, the agency will use what it’s learned in the previous steps to send humans into low-Mars orbit.
This is expected to take place in the early 2030s, and will test the entry, descent, and landing techniques.
The agency is already studying potential ‘Exploration Zones,’ and in the mission, they will study the surface to see what will be needed in order to ‘live off the land.’
According to Nasa, ‘science missions are already in the Independent phase, with the next rover due in 2020.’
Last month, Elon Musk's company Space X suffered a major blow to their Mars mission ambitions, when when of their launches failed (picture of the explosion above)
Space X has run into issues recently however, including a failed launch last month that cost the company a $200million satellite.
Obama's comments come ahead of a meeting planned by the White House in Pittsburgh this week aimed at teaming up scientists, students and others to further efforts to develop the commercial space market, according to the piece.
While private companies are already working on missions to space, including to the International Space Station, humans have yet to travel to Mars, Earth's neighbor some 35 million miles away at their closest point in orbit, according to NASA. Like Earth, the so-called Red Planet also has seasons, and a 2012 NASA mission found conditions there once supported microbial life, according to the U.S. space agency.
It would take about nine months to get there, depending on rocket velocity, some NASA experts have said. A high-speed trip could take as little as 130 days, they said on the agency's website.
The issue of getting enough food and water into space to feed astronauts on a months or years-long mission to deep space has been a key logistical problem, and little research has been done to show how this might work.
HOW LONG WOULD A MANNED MARS MISSION TAKE?
Just getting Mars will take up to nine months. The astronauts will then be there waiting for a year until they can come back
Owing to the orbits of Earth and Mars, there are specific windows of opportunity when a mission can take place.
Our planets come as close to each other as 33.9 million miles, but can be as distant as 250 million miles.
For this reason spacecraft to Mars, such as the Curiosity rover, have to launch in certain windows when the planets are aligned.
The next window is open from January 2016 to April 2016, and will see the launch of two more missions to the red planet.
For a future manned mission, they will need to launch out in one of the windows and return in another.
Just getting there will take up to nine months. The astronauts will then be there waiting for a year until they can come back, again taking up to nine months - a total of around three years.
Whether an engine could shorten the time it would take to cover the distance, though, remains to be seen.
NASA is developing a powerful rocket known as the Space Launch System and a deep space capsule, Orion, for a Mars trip purpose.
The first launch of the SLS - with no people on board - is planned for 2018.
A U.S. mission to send humans into the area of space beyond the Moon, but not as far is Mars, is planned for the 2020s.
It has been decades since the United States sent astronauts to the moon in 1969, and efforts to fund the space program have faltered in recent years over concerns about government spending and fiscal priorities.
ELON MUSKS'S RADICAL PLAN TO TAKE HUMANS TO MARS
SpaceX chief Elon Musk recently unveiled his most ambitious project yet - an 'interplanetary transport system' to take man to Mars in 80 days and build a sustainable human colony of a million people there.
The Interplanetary Transport System will use a giant rocket booster with a 12m diameter, and a special shuttle with a 17m diameter, making the entire rocket stack 122 m high.
'What I want to achieve is make Mars seem possible, to show that we can do it in our lifetimes, and you could go,' he said at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico.
However, he warned the trip was likely to be dangerous - and said candidates for the first missions 'must be prepared to die'.
The Interplanetary Transport System will use a giant rocket booster with a 12m diameter and 49 engines, and a special shuttle with a 17m diameter, making the entire rocket stack 122 m high.
They will launch with empty fuel tanks and refuel in orbit.
Once on Mars, they would make more methane fuel for the return journey.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils his plans to colonize Mars during the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexic
However, Boeing could beat Elon Musk's SpaceX to be the land humankind on Mars.
The aerospace firm played a vital role in the Apollo moon landings, and has also committed to building a capsule for Nasa's Space Launch System (SLS) to take astronauts into space in future.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said this week that he believes Boeing will win the race to get to the red planet first.
Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft will first be used to take astronauts to the ISS, pictured. However, Boeing also envisages a future where it is used to transport astronauts to private spacecraft such as Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable habitats
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