Will we ever send humans to Mars?

Artist's impression of astronauts on the surface of Mars. Image: Nasa.

In the summer of 1969, two weeks after Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon, rocket scientist Wernher von Braun delivered to Nasa a detailed, fully costed plan for landing humans on Mars.

Dr von Braun, who had masterminded America’s lunar program, intended to send astronauts on an initial excursion to the Red Planet lasting two years, with a fly-by of Venus on the journey home.

The mission was to reach Mars by 1982 and would be accomplished using a nuclear-powered rocket. This would be parked in Earth orbit and used to ferry 800-ton spaceships to Mars and back.

But by the end of the 1960s, politicians and the media had had their fill of space; the timing was also wrong economically. As a result, the proposal fell on deaf ears.

Then, in January 2004, President George W Bush announced a program for returning humans to the Moon by 2020 and – at an undetermined date – to Mars.

In the years since von Braun unveiled his masterplan, interest in a manned Mars mission has remained high. But no other proposal submitted in the intervening decades has gained any momentum.

Why? In short, the challenges are immense. A manned mission to Mars would be both more difficult than sending humans to the Moon and more costly. Today, estimates of the cost range enormously from $20bn to $450bn.

Source:  BBC News


One Response to “Will we ever send humans to Mars?”

  1. Jessie Says:

    so if we would have continued with our space program, we’d have been on Mars in 1982! The U.S. dropped the ball. Think of the population base that would now be on Mars if we would have first arrived in ’82.

    The planet would probably be terraformed already. Missed opportunities!

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