President Obama announced in a CNN personal column that NASA is developing a plan to send humans to Mars and back and attends to achieve this goal by 2030.
“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.
To eventually send astronauts to the red planet, NASA will work alongside private corporations to eventually achieve their goal. Six companies will work towards developing and building what NASA has described as, “deep space habitat modules.”
“The idea is that these habitats or ‘habs’ would evolve into spacecraft capable of sustaining and transporting astronauts on long-duration deep space missions, like a mission to Mars,” explained NASA administrator Charles Bolden in a NASA blog post.
A journey to Mars has long been contemplated by those of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. President Obama arrived in Pittsburgh Thursday for a White House Frontiers Conference at both universities to discuss the exploration, and perhaps even settlement, of the planet.
The conference will have four other areas of focus in addition to space exploration: Community development, artificial intelligence, climate change and precision health.
In pioneering yet another journey to the stars, NASA and President Obama hope that it will stimulate interest in STEM fields, as well as allow for vast innovation in technology and engineering.
Furthermore, as evidenced in the space race of the Cold War, successful voyages to Mars will stir both creative imagination and fierce patriotism in America. Sharing a common, altruistic goal would do much to bring our country closer together.
These missions will also prove just how far humans can live away from Earth.
Despite all this, not everything will be perfect. Elon Musk, billionaire and founder of SpaceX who is working closely with NASA in this endeavor, told the International Astronautical Congress in late September that the risk of fatality would be high. “Basically, are you prepared to die? And if that’s OK then you’re a candidate for going,” he said.
Talks of landing humans on Mars is only the most recent display of President Obama’s passion for the United States’ space program. Under his presidency, their has been a rejuvenation of technological innovation at NASA. Just last year, they discovered there is water on Mars and ice on Jupiter. They also managed to map Pluto in high resolution; a planet that is over 3 billion miles away from Earth.
It is only a matter of capitalizing on the technology we have at our disposal and the brilliant minds we have working for our space program. In doing so, exploration of Mars will become a reality rather than mere science fiction.