NASA improves its strategy to get humans to Mars

Artist's conception of an early Martian base.

Artist’s conception of an early Martian base.
picture: NASA

NASA agency Next Artemis Moon Program Serve as a springboard for an eventual manned mission to Mars. A revised list of planning objectives details a strategy to accomplish this hard feat.

The documentchest Tuesday, serve As a blueprint for how humans will eventually be sent to Mars. NASA has chosen to use a “moon to Mars” strategy, in which the space agency, with the help of commercial and international partners, will acquire the technology and skills needed to operate on the moon, and then use those lessons for a manned mission. to Mars, tentatively scheduled for the late 1930s or early 1940s.

Earlier this year, NASA coined 50 high-level goals for the program, And in June Requested Members of the workforce, public and private companies, and international partners to align with. This was followed by double workshops to materialize Beyond these thoughts.

In total, NASA received more than 5,000 recommendations, which allowed the space agency to improve its pre-existing list of goals and add completely new ones. The resulting 63 goals reflect a “mature strategy” for NASA and its partners as they develop the plan For “continued human presence and exploration throughout the solar system,” according to NASA press release.

“Our first draft of Moon-to-Mars targets was intentionally broad, and the overwhelming responses we received encouraged us to be broader in some areas, but more specific in others,” NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Milroy wrote in the document forward. “We have evolved from 50 goals to 63 goals, spanning interdisciplinary science, transportation and habitation, lunar and Martian infrastructure, operations, and a new field: Recurring Principles.”

Smartly, the revised strategy remains closely aligned with NASA’s Artemis program, which seeks to return humans to the Moon, this time for good. The 63 high-level objectives listed in the new document are therefore a mix of lunar- and Martian-specific requirements. The new objectives were broken down into five categories: recurring tenets, science, infrastructure, transportation and habitation, and operations.

The recurring tenets reflect common themes across all objectives, such as international and industry collaboration, ensuring the health of the crew and returning them safely to Earth, maximizing the time available for crews to perform science and engineering activities during the course of the mission, and to “foster the expansion of the economic sphere beyond Earth orbit to support U.S. industry and innovation.” I don’t love the specific mention of “U.S. industry and innovation,” as this international endeavor should also seek to foster the economies of partner nations, which it’s very likely to do. But like so many things that NASA says and does, there are political factors that need to be taken into account; the space agency must always cozy up to Congress, the keeper of the purse strings.

Science objectives for Moon to Mars should touch upon planetary science, the science of the Sun, human and biological science, and basic physics, among other fields. Ideally, we should work to improve our understanding of the early solar system, the geology of both the Moon and Mars, the origin of life, space weather, the history of the Sun, and the deleterious effects of long-duration missions onto biological systems, including humans, according to the document. During the program, we should “evaluate how the interaction of exploration systems and the deep space environment affect human health, performance, and space human factors to inform future exploration-class missions,” as the Moon to Mars blueprint spells out.

Specific infrastructure objectives for both the lunar and Martian environments include power generation, various robotics capabilities, a communications infrastructure, navigation and timing (i.e. ensuring sync between devices, some of which will be separated by vast distances), and on-site resource utilization. For transportation and habitation, the blueprint seeks the development of “an integrated system of systems to conduct a campaign of human exploration missions to the Moon and Mars, while living and working on the lunar and Martian surface, with safe return to Earth.”

Operational requirements to enable human missions on both the Moon and Mars include the establishment of command and control processes, operating surface mobility systems (such as space suits, tools, and vehicles), and the factoring in of communications delays. Fascinatingly, the document also requests the “capability to find, service, upgrade, or utilize instruments and equipment from robotic landers or previous human missions on the surface of the Moon and Mars.” This blows my mind, and I’m suddenly imagining Martian crews poaching NASA Insight Landing Vehicle For spare parts or repair defunct Opportunity Rover.

“We’re helping direct humanity’s global movement into deep space,” Jim Frey, NASA associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, said in the press release. “The goals will help ensure a long-term strategy for solar system exploration that can keep purpose, changing the political climate, and funding consistent.”

These objectives are as necessary as they are arduous, as project planners strive to achieve mission objectives while ensuring the safety of their crews. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who eagerly claims he will implant a A million colonists on Mars by 2050, they should take note. To get to Mars, there’s more to it than just packing spacecraft with colonists and I wish them well.

more: Elon Musk’s plan to send a million colonists to Mars by 2050 is an illusion.