Why NASA Can't Land Humans On Mars




mars-surface-horizon
mars-surface-horizon

For years, NASA has been promoting its Journey to Mars mission, which would have given many a chance to land on the hot planet. People who were looking forward to make a trip to Mars will be disappointed to know that NASA has no money to execute its plan.

On Wednesday, NASA's chief of human spaceflight, William H. Gerstenmaier, announced the agency cannot achieve the targeted mission to Mars in the 2030s with the current budget.

"I can't put a date on humans on Mars, and the reason really is the other piece is, at the budget levels we described, this roughly 2 percent increase, we don't have the surface systems available for Mars," Gerstenmaier reportedly said during a propulsion meeting of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. "And that entry, descent, and landing is a huge challenge for us for Mars."

It is believed the cost to build the Space Launch System, and spacecraft, Orion, went higher than expected, due to which the agency failed to begin designing vehicles to land on Mars or ascend from the surface.

Gerstenmaier comments come nearly a month after Lt. Gen. Larry James, the deputy director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the space agency had its sights set on Mars for the near future.

"Sending humans to orbit Mars is our primary mission now," James said during a speech entitled "Exploring Our World, the Solar System and the Universe" in Chennai, India. "We are working on the human and rocket technologies required for the long mission."

During the speech, James also spoke about NASA developing new rocket technology that would successfully take humans to Mars.

"NASA is in the middle of building the rocket and testing its components," he said of the technology, called the Space Launch System, or SLS. "The first launch will be in 2019."

The agency, which has successfully sent rovers and landing craft to Mars, may fail to reach the goal of sending humans to the planet within the time it envisioned.

Among those looking forward to see humans reaching Mars is President Donald Trump, who in April urged NASA to achieve its goal sooner than planned. In March, Trump signed a bill that granted NASA $19.5 billion in funding and instructed the agency to continue with plans to reach Mars.

"We want to try and do it during my first term or at worst during my second term, so we'll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?" Trump said during a video call with astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer.

The focus on landing on Mars increased after physicist Stephen Hawking said humans need to colonize Mars within the next 100 years as humanity wouldn't survive on Earth.

"I am arguing for the future of humanity and a long-term strategy to achieve this," Hawking said. On Earth "there is no new world, no utopia around the corner. … We are running out of space, and the only places to go to are other worlds."

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