How Science Fiction Will Help Us Go to Mars
While the technology for a manned mission is decades away, our imagination is not. Countless science-fiction books and movies take us to the red planet, often with fantastical results. Andy Weir's novel The Martian is a twist on those tales, offering a near-future account of humanity's third visit to Mars, with an unfortunate accident stranding an astronaut there. Weir blends real science into the adventure, depicting in exquisite detail how astronaut Mark Watney would survive using engineering and ingenuity. The result is an uplifting tale with a generational hero who unites and captivates people across the world. It's currently being adapted into a film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon.
With an eye on Mars, White House seeks to boost NASA funding
The Christian Science Monitor
The White House budget proposal for NASA in 2016 calls for a $500 million boost over the 2015 enacted budget and would keep NASA on its path to Mars, NASA chief Charles Bolden says.
The $18.5 billion budget request, presented by Bolden today (Feb. 2), includes funding for developing a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, and the agency's asteroid redirect mission (ARM). Officials think ARM could help pave the way for crewed missions to the Red Planet by the 2030s.
"NASA is firmly on a journey to Mars," Bolden said. "Make no mistake, this journey will help guide and define our generation."
How NASA Plans to Land Humans on Mars
The Planetary Society
On the surface, NASA's humans to Mars plans seem vague and disjointed. For instance, it's difficult to see how visiting a captured asteroid in lunar orbit fits into a bigger picture. But if you combine Gerst's speech with two days of symposium panels and a day of interviews at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the full breadth of what the agency is trying to do begins to makes sense. There is indeed a plan to put humans on Mars. Vague? Yes. Hard to see? Absolutely. But that's because Gerst and NASA are playing the long game. And right now, it may be the only game they can play. There are three big reasons NASA can't lay out a comprehensive Mars plan: flat budgets, a perilous political landscape, and the sheer scale of a 20-plus-years program. Thus far, NASA's most audacious human exploration program kicked off in 1961, when John F. Kennedy declared Americans would walk on the moon by the end of the decade. The nine-year program was a success, but it was bolstered by a strong political mandate and more than double the funding NASA receives today. The agency's budget peaked in 1966 at $43.5 billion (in 2014 dollars). Today, NASA gets about $18 billion. There's not much political will to go to Mars, and no indication that NASA's budget will change significantly. In fact, NASA doesn't even have a fiscal year 2015 budget yet, as it operates under a stopgap continuing resolution.
‘Get your ass to Mars’: Buzz Aldrin wants humans to permanently occupy Mars
The second man to walk on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin, said he wants humans to permanently occupy the planet Mars.
Speaking to the BBC, while wearing a “Get Your Ass to Mars” t-shirt, he said funding for space exploration by the US needs to be at least doubled if humans are going to land on Mars by 2035.
Space Launch System approved, we’re going to Mars
Hey, want to go to Mars? Well, in a few years you can…kind of. The Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket we’ve built yet. The spacecraft needed approval from the SPAR agency before putting it to test. On August 27th, they gave us the okay and now, we are officially going to try and bring humans to Mars. Isn’t that crazy?
In 2018, which isn’t too far away if you think about it, we’re going to send the Space Launch System carrying the Orion spacecraft up into orbit. The SLS will be configured with a 70-metric-ton lift capacity. The final version of the SLS will be able to carry 130 metric tons.
Thirty years ago today a group of scientists, grad students, and all around Mars enthusiasts wrapped up the four-day Case for Mars conference in Boulder, Colorado. While there, they drafted plans for a human Mars spacecraft that became enshrined—at least for a little while—in popular culture. A large spinning vessel consisting of three nearly identical ships and their landing craft, it was a serious attempt at defining a human mission to Mars. By the early 1990s, one of the Case for Mars participants, Carter Emmart, produced a beautifully detailed model of the spinning spacecraft that was placed on display in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Now, after a long absence, that model is back in public view.
NASA finalizes contract to build the most powerful rocket ever
Los Angeles Times
SA has reached a milestone in its development of the Space Launch System, or SLS, which is set to be the most powerful rocket ever and may one day take astronauts to Mars.
After completing a critical design review, Boeing Co. has finalized a $2.8-billion contract with the space agency. The deal allows full production on the rocket to begin. “Our teams have dedicated themselves to ensuring that the SLS – the largest ever -- will be built safely, affordably and on time,” Virginia Barnes, Boeing's Space Launch System vice president and program manager, said in a statement.
The last time NASA’s completed a critical design review of a deep-space human rocket was 1961, when the space agency assessed the mighty Saturn V, which ultimately took man to the moon.
Work on the 321-foot Space Launch System is spread throughout Southern California, including Boeing's avionics team in Huntington Beach. The rocket’s core stage will get its power from four RS-25 engines for former space shuttle main engines built by Aerojet Rocketdyne of Canoga Park.
Congressman Posey: We Need Neil DeGrasse Tyson To Get People Excited About Going To Mars
The Huffington Post
House lawmakers met Wednesday to tackle a daunting task: how to keep Congress committed to investing hundreds of billions of dollars into a decades-long plan to send humans to Mars.
A manned mission to Mars has long been the stuff of science fiction, but it's one of NASA's biggest projects as part of its larger goal of laying the groundwork for permanent human settlements in the solar system. William Gerstenmaier, an associate administrator at NASA, told a Senate committee in April that the agency is currently focused on intermediate space missions but hopes to build up to long-duration space travel.
But if humans are ever going to reach Mars, a panel told the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, it's going to require steadfast public enthusiasm, the support of multiple presidential administrations, international cooperation, private sector involvement and, perhaps most challenging, a bipartisan agreement in Congress to keep funding the venture for at least another 30 years.
It will take unprecedented unity, funding and international teamwork to land astronauts on Mars within the next 30 years, the co-chairmen of an independent government panel advocating such a mission told a congressional committee Wednesday.
Then the two co-chairmen got a glimpse of why those goals won't come easy.
GOP lawmakers at Wednesday's hearing bashed the Obama administration for abandoning a return-to-the-moon mission in favor of using an asteroid as a steppingstone to Mars. Democrats said Republicans have no right to complain about lack of money for the space program when they've pushed for budget cuts. And lawmakers from both parties raised doubts about whether potential foreign partners, notably China, can be trusted.
Former Republican governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, co-chairman of the National Research Council panel that issued the 285-page report earlier this month, acknowledged the enormity of the task.
"Getting humans to the surface of Mars will be a daunting challenge," Daniels, now president of Purdue University, told members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. "Succeeding in this endeavor will require, we believe, a very different way of doing business than the nation has been practicing in recent decades."
America's Long-Term Space Goal: Let's Put Humans on Mars
A new report from the National Research Council declares that the expenses and risks associated with human spaceflight can be justified only by the goal of putting humans on other worlds, with the "horizon goal" of getting to Mars.
That goal is consistent with NASA's long-term vision for space exploration — but the report, titled "Pathways to Exploration: Rationales and Approaches to a U.S. Program of Human Exploration," goes farther by noting that NASA's current budget is too meager to reach the goal, and that it's "in the best interests of the United States" to let China participate in future space partnerships.
NASA's budget has been trimmed back in recent years, and there's currently a ban on U.S.-Chinese space cooperation.
NASA’s Strategic Plan 2014 Released
Leonard David's INSIDE OUTER SPACE
NASA has released its 2014 Strategic Plan, with the space agency’s Office of Strategy Formulation identified as the responsible office.
“Our long-term goal is to send humans to Mars. Over the next two decades, we will develop and demonstrate the technologies and capabilities needed to send humans to explore the red planet and safely return them to Earth,” explains NASA chief, Charles Bolden, in the opening pages of the document.
Obama proposes ending Mars Odyssey, Mars Opportunity in NASA budget
According to a March 13, 2014 story on Fox News, two venerable but successful Mars probes face the budget ax by the Obama administration in the FY 2015 funding request for NASA.
“NASA’s baseline budget for the year beginning Oct. 1 pulls the plug on the 10-year-old Mars rover Opportunity, newly released details of the agency’s fiscal 2015 spending plan show.
“The plan, which requires Congressional approval, also anticipates ending the orbiting Mars Odyssey mission on Sept. 30, 2016.”
Full Committee Hearing - Mars Flyby 2021: The First Deep Space Mission for the Orion and Space Launch System?
House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
The Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a hearing titled Mars Flyby
2021: The First Deep Space Mission for the Orion and SLS at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday,
February 27th. This hearing will explore the need for a roadmap of missions to guide
investments in NASA's human spaceflight programs, how a manned mission to flyby the planets
Mars and Venus launching in 2021 might fit into a series of missions and how the Space Launch
System (SLS) and Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle could contribute to that mission.
World's first space tourist gives details on manned mission to Mars in 2017 - 2018
Dennis Tito, the American entrepreneur who paid $20 million in 2001 for a trip to the International Space Station, spoke before a House subcommittee on space today to outline his plans for reaching Mars. According to Tito, the "Inspiration Mars" endeavor will be a fly-by mission that'll take two astronauts 808 million miles from Earth to Mars and back again in 501 days. And he'll need more than $1 billion to do it. The plan works within a narrow timeline that takes advantage of a rare alignment in Earth and Mars' orbits. According to Tito's written testimony, the launch will need to take place between Christmas 2017 and January 5th, 2018 to ensure a speedy trip. So to pull that off, Inspiration Mars will need complete cooperation from NASA — the two-man crew aboard the Inspiration Mars' commercial craft will need the space agency's huge Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to propel them there. The SLS rocket is still under development.