In December 2017, the President of the United States Donald trump signed a Directive, according to which the space Agency NASA is to prepare the program to return American astronauts to the moon and “to consider the prospect of manned missions to Mars and other planets in the Solar system.” The Agency set a clear date in 2024, the man should land on the moon in 2033 on Mars. However, industry experts believe that the Mars mission will be much harder than the entire Apollo program of the 1960s years, so in 2033 – too unrealistic date.
“The moon will be a testing ground for our ability to go to Mars,” — said the head of NASA Jim Bridenstine last week during the annual Human to Mars event.
“The moon is our opportunity as soon as possible and safer to reach the red planet. That is why we will first fly to the moon.”
However, according to Robert Howard, head of laboratory, development of future space homes at the Space center Lyndon B. Johnson, the question of sending humans to Mars is not so much the technical and scientific complexities, but with the budget and political will.
“A lot of people would like that we repeated the time of “Apollo”. And many wish our President was, and how at the time Kennedy said that we must rally around this objective and fulfill it,” commented Howard.
“The Mars mission is in principle feasible by 2027, but this is unlikely. I think that with our current approach if we’re lucky, we’ll be able to go to at least 2037”.
Pessimistic forecast Howard was shared by other experts who participated in the event to address issues of deep space exploration. Some even said that on Mars we should not dream of until 2060.
From development, production and testing of rockets and spacecraft to knowledge about how best to grow lettuce in space – all this knowledge will be useful in the implementation of such an ambitious mission. Think for yourself. To Mars one way to fly for six months. This is not a relaxing three day journey to the moon. The whole mission to the red planet could take two years as Mars and Earth approach each other at maximum distance only once in 26 months. And this window should be considered.
The key problem that scientists must solve before sending humans to Mars – the protection of astronauts from cosmic radiation and solar radiation, said Julie Robertson, head of scientific mission of NASA for the International space station.
“The second problem is food. The current system of growing fresh produce is not very convenient, not very portable and not very suitable to take them on a flight to Mars,” — said the expert.
In addition, there are a number of issues related to maintaining the health of the astronauts during the flight to the red planet, in the course of their work on its surface, as well as during the return back to Earth. We must learn to carry out complex surgical operations and other medical problems in case of any unexpected situation.
“I think one of the problems to be addressed, associated with the suits,” adds Jennifer Heldmann, a planetary scientist from NASA.
One of the most unfortunate elements suits the mission “Apollo” was their gloves. They were very swollen, restricting movement of the astronauts at work. Experts say that for the first time in 40 years, NASA is developing new space suit, but its completion and the first trial on Board the International space station will take a few more years.
On Mars, fine dust particles will become an even more serious problem than was on the moon. The astronauts of mission “Apollo” on his return to Earth brought a large amount of dust in the manned modules. In turn, the preservation of sterility of the Martian dwellings is a critical aspect, especially for missions in which people have to live on the red planet for several months.
Technologies necessary for mining on Mars (water, fuel and oxygen), necessary for the survival of people still do not exist. They are developed, but their first real tests can begin only by the end of the next decade, when the moon will fly the first manned expedition.
In addition, we need to address the fundamental question: how to save the sanity of the people who will have to experience serious psychological stress in the course of two years, until last mission? Problems to respond in real time will not work. Radio messages between Earth and Mars in one direction you can go from 4 to 24 minutes. NASA is going to organize with participation of the ISS exercises with the delay of communication, but, again, it will happen no sooner than a few years.
Experts believe that the Mars we need to develop and use specialized artificial intelligence will help astronauts living and working on the red planet. For all these reasons the task of sending humans to Mars by 2033 seems extreme unlikely.
“It’s not just in the budget. It is also about organizational issues and how quickly NASA will be able to cope with technical problems simultaneously,” says Bhavya Lal Institute of General scientific and technological problems.
A more realistic date for the first manned missions to Mars Lal considers 2039.
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