NASA today vowed to send men to a martian moon before setting up an independent space colony where astronauts could be based for around three years there by the 2030s.
It released a “journey to Mars” plan, saying it was closer than ever to human feet treading on Martian soil.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said: “NASA is closer to sending American astronauts to Mars than at any point in our history.
“Today, we are publishing additional details about our journey to Mars plan and how we are aligning all of our work in support of this goal. In the coming weeks, I look forward to continuing to discuss the details of our plan with members of Congress, as well as our commercial and our international and partners, many of whom will be attending the International Astronautical Congress next week.”
Nasa says from the International Space Station, it will venture deeper into space, before landing on one of Mars moons and ultimately the red Planet.
A spokesman said: “Earth Independent activities build on what we learn on the space station and in deep space to enable human missions to the Mars vicinity, possibly to low-Mars orbit or one of the Martian moons, and eventually the Martian surface.
“Future Mars missions will represent a collaborative effort between NASA and its partners—a global achievement that marks a transition in humanity’s expansion as we go to Mars to seek the potential for sustainable life beyond Earth.
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Earth Independent activities build on what we learn on the space station and in deep space to enable human missions to the Mars vicinity, possibly to low-Mars orbit or one of the Martian moons, and eventually the Martian surface
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“NASA also will need to learn new ways of operating in space, based on self-reliance and increased system reliability.
“We will use proving ground missions to validate transportation and habitation capabilities as well as new operational approaches to stay productive in space while reducing reliance on Earth.”
The report talk of “crewed missions lasting up to 1,100 days and exploration campaigns that span decades.”
So far Nasa has landed about a metric tonne on Mars – but needs to get a craft ten times the weight down there for humans to land.
The spokesman added: “These challenges are solvable, and NASA and its partners are working on the solutions every day so we can answer some of humanity’s fundamental questions about life beyond Earth:
“Was Mars home to microbial life? Is it today? Could it be a safe home for humans one day?
“The journey to Mars is an historic pioneering endeavou, a journey made possible by a sustained effort of science and exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit with successively more capable technologies and partnerships.”