On Tuesday, President Barack Obama published an essay on CNN that called for Americans to work towards reaching Mars by 2030.
This isn’t the first time Obama has made this bold statement. In 2010, he spoke of the same goal in a speech at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. This time however, Obama was joined by White House and NASA officials on the post. Also, a more detailed plan was laid out in order to actually propose a mission to Mars.
The plan has actually already begun. This August, NASA gave contracts to a select few companies to begin developing life-sustaining habitats for astronauts on a deep-space mission. The work these companies do will also apply to the Mars mission. NASA officials said that private companies could create their own designs for the International Space Station. In the next few years, these new technologies will be tested on the International Space Station.
Obama stated in the essay, “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.”
For years, many professionals have said the colonization of Mars isn’t impossible, only extremely difficult. Many issues such as radiation and the overall cost would have to be considered, but it is in fact possible.
The main reason NASA hasn’t had any more trips to the moon or any trips to Mars isn’t because of a lack of proper technological developments, but instead political and financial issues. In 1996, NASA received 4.4 percent of the federal budget. This year, they only received .5 percent of the government’s spending.
Outside organizations however are surpassing NASA and their budget limits. Elon Musk’s space program, SpaceX, announced last month that by 2024, their “Interplanetary Transport System” could begin taking colonists to Mars. However, SpaceX’s income is relatively small so funds for the project are somewhat vague. Musk did however say the company would need “huge public and private partnerships.”
Most of NASA’s funds are currently spent operating the International Space Station ($3 billion – $4 billion). In 2024 however, the program plans to ditch the station, freeing up money for larger projects, like the human mission to Mars.
This year at the International Astronautical Congress meeting, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, William H. Gerstenmaier, said, “(he) expected NASA astronauts in orbit around Mars in the 2030s. But a landing will not occur until the 2040s.”
Even if NASA doesn’t reach the exploration of Mars until 2040, some outside organizations might. Either way, the long-awaited goal of getting to Mars by many in the astrological field seems very possible as of late.