September 19th, 2016

Moon-walker Buzz Aldrin opens new Mars exhibit at Kennedy Space Center

Apollo 11 moon-walker Buzz Aldrin says he hopes the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s new “Destination: Mars” experience will help inspire human exploration of the Red Planet.

Aldrin was at the complex on Sunday at a media preview and ribbon-cutting for the attraction, which features a holographic image of Aldrin, as he guides visitors on a walk along the virtual Martian surface.

A proponent of colonization of Mars, Aldrin told reporters that he would like to see the next president make a bold statement shortly after taking office in January for accelerating the timeline for human spaceflight to Mars, so that we can one day “call two planets ‘home.'”

October 7th, 2015

Las Vegas bets that SpaceX will make it to Mars before NASA


NASA may believe that it’ll be the first to land humans on Mars, but don’t tell that to Las Vegas betting houses. Popular Mechanics has asked Docsports’ Raphael Esparza to set odds for the first organization to put people on Mars, and he believes that SpaceX stands a much better chance of reaching the Red Planet (5 to 1) than anyone else, including NASA (80 to 1). To put it bluntly, SpaceX has the money and the motivation that others don’t — NASA would be the favorite, but its budget cuts are holding it back.

August 20th, 2015

NASA to rely on Mars programme’s silent workhorse for years to come


NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, aging and arthritic a decade after its launch, remains productive and is expected to be the primary pipeline for high-resolution maps of Mars for scientists and mission planners over the next decade.

Scientists who want to study Mars’ enigmatic history, tenuous water cycle and climate will continue to rely on the nearly $900 million MRO mission, and engineers charged with selecting landing sites for future Mars rovers, and eventual human expeditions, will use maps created from the orbiter’s imagery, officials said.

And the success of future landers, beginning with NASA’s InSight seismic probe next year, depend in part on MRO’s availability to relay data from the Martian surface to Earth.

July 27th, 2015

NASA Launches a New Space Camp Aimed at Recruiting for Future Mars Expeditions Clapway

Space camp was an idea that always seemed more like a farfetched dream than a place a child might actually go visit, but new reports indicate NASA is looking to bring a new ground-breaking space camp in hopes of fueling interest among candidates who may go on to become part of future Mars expeditions.

NASA has seen a declining budget and support for years, despite all of the new discoveries and technologies the world has benefited from. One element of this new space camp is to drum up some additional interest in the program through the country’s future leaders.

July 9th, 2015

NASA Selects Astronauts for First U.S. Commercial Spaceflights NASA

NASA has selected four astronauts to train and prepare for commercial spaceflights that will return American launches to U.S. soil and further open up low-Earth orbit transportation to the private sector. The selections are the latest major milestone in the Obama Administration’s plan to partner with U.S. industry to transport astronauts to space, create good-paying American jobs and end the nation’s sole reliance on Russia for space travel.

“I am pleased to announce four American space pioneers have been selected to be the first astronauts to train to fly to space on commercial crew vehicles, all part of our ambitious plan to return space launches to U.S. soil, create good-paying American jobs and advance our goal of sending humans farther into the solar system than ever before,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “These distinguished, veteran astronauts are blazing a new trail — a trail that will one day land them in the history books and Americans on the surface of Mars.”

NASA named experienced astronauts and test pilots Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley and Sunita Williams to work closely with The Boeing Company and SpaceX to develop their crew transportation systems and provide crew transportation services to and from the International Space Station (ISS).

June 4th, 2015

NASA wants to cut travel time to Mars “in half” with new propulsion tech Ars Technica

Speaking at an Aerojet Rocketdyne plant, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said the program is looking into advanced propulsion technologies that can cut the current eight-month journey to Mars “in half.” Technologies such as solar-electric propulsion are definitely in the cards, but NASA may look towards more unconventional solutions such as nuclear rockets as well. The main problem with getting humans to Mars is that, with our current liquid-fuelled rocket engines, it takes a very long time to get there; about eight months or so. If we can cut the journey in half, we significantly reduce the amount of food and water needed—which in turn cuts down the weight of the spacecraft, which in turn reduces the amount of fuel needed, which in turn feeds a very positive feedback loop. Less time in outer space means astronauts will be bombarded by less radiation too.

May 4th, 2015

Traffic Around Mars Gets Busy NASA

NASA has beefed up a process of traffic monitoring, communication and maneuver planning to ensure that Mars orbiters do not approach each other too closely.

Last year’s addition of two new spacecraft orbiting Mars brought the census of active Mars orbiters to five, the most ever. NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) and India’s Mars Orbiter Mission joined the 2003 Mars Express from ESA (the European Space Agency) and two from NASA: the 2001 Mars Odyssey and the 2006 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The newly enhanced collision-avoidance process also tracks the approximate location of NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor, a 1997 orbiter that is no longer working.

It’s not just the total number that matters, but also the types of orbits missions use for achieving their science goals. MAVEN, which reached Mars on Sept. 21, 2014, studies the upper atmosphere. It flies an elongated orbit, sometimes farther from Mars than NASA’s other orbiters and sometimes closer to Mars, so it crosses altitudes occupied by those orbiters. For safety, NASA also monitors positions of ESA’s and India’s orbiters, which both fly elongated orbits

April 29th, 2015

10 things humans are doing right now to reach Mars Business Insider

Mars is a freezing, desolate desert seemingly devoid of life. Yet humanity will be in much better shape after we colonize it.

This feat, however, will not be easy. The first steps will likely begin with return missions from Mars back to Earth. And only after we’ve proven that we can safely transport, land, and launch people from Mars, will we begin considering the possibility of establishing small, permanent colonies there.

Before either of those things can happen, however, scientists first need to make sure we can afford these missions and, more importantly, prove that we have the technology to safely get people to Mars and back.

There are ten projects that are currently underway which should help us move forward with missions to Mars. Based on the ground and in space, these projects are pushing the boundaries of technology and human psychology, physiology, and ingenuity.

April 20th, 2015

NASA Awards Radiation Challenge Winners, Launches Next Round to Seek Ideas for Protecting Humans on the Journey to Mars NASA

NASA awarded $12,000 to five winners of a challenge to mitigate radiation exposure on deep space missions and launched a new follow-on challenge to identify innovative ways of protecting crews on the journey to Mars.

The follow-on challenge offers an award of up to $30,000 for design ideas to protect the crew on long-duration space missions. Anyone can participate in the challenge, which will be open Wednesday, April 29 through Monday, June 29, 2015.

“We are very impressed with the enthusiasm and sheer number of people from the public who showed interest in solving this very difficult problem for human space exploration,” said Steve Rader, deputy manager of the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation. “We look forward to seeing what people will come up with in this next challenge to find the optimal configuration for these different protection approaches.”

April 12th, 2015

NASA Selects Proposals for Ultra-Lightweight Materials for Journey to Mars and Beyond NASA

NASA has selected three proposals to develop and manufacture ultra-lightweight (ULW) materials for future aerospace vehicles and structures. The proposals will mature advanced technologies that will enable NASA to reduce the mass of spacecraft by 40 percent for deep space exploration.

“Lightweight and multifunctional materials and structures are one of NASA’s top focus areas capable of having the greatest impact on future NASA missions in human and robotic exploration,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. “These advanced technologies are necessary for us to be able to launch stronger, yet lighter, spacecraft and components as we look to explore an asteroid and eventually Mars.”