In preparation for the Mars mission, NASA may include a moon mission that will likely last a year. The Mars mission hopes to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s. NASA released a plan detailing how the agency will send people to Mars. At the Humans to Mars Summit in Washington D.C., NASA outlined several phases of the project. Included in the plan was a place to test technology needed for the mission to Mars.
The deputy associate administrator Greg Williams, spoke at the summit outlining a “gateway,” reported Space.com. The gateway would be the testing area for the Mars missions which include operations and technology. From the moon, would be a “launching point” for the Mars-bound spacecraft. The added lunar mission would be a year-long and begin in 2027. It is one of the “major future milestones” that NASA has in the plan.
Before the moon mission begins, however, five missions would take place. Four of them would be crewed and would send the necessary hardware for the mission. Included in the equipment is the Deep Space Transport that would be used for the mission to Mars. The hope of the moon mission or the testing trip would be to gain knowledge for the Mars mission, which is estimated to take about 1,000 days. Using the Space Launch System by NASA, the system would deliver the supplies and crews into space.
Williams outlined the first two phases of the mission to Mars. Between 2018 and 2026, Phase 1 will begin with “four crewed flights” taking place between the Earth and the moon. These missions will send “four key pieces of infrastructure” reported by Space.com. This support would include a “power and propulsion bus, a crew habitat, a logistic module…and an airlock.” Phase 2 is planned to start in 2027 and begins with an uncrewed mission that would send the Deep Space Transport. This mission would be closely followed by the year-long mission around the moon. Williams called the plan “evolving” and could change as more nations, partnerships, and collaborations occur.
NASA scientists are still studying the effects of “long-term trips to space on the human body,” according to Science Alert. Using astronaut twins Scott and Mark Kelly, the scientists found that short-term trips into space can have grave effects on the human body. The Economic Times, reported that using the moon for robotic missions was important and could return to Earth “in days rather than weeks or months,” if needed.
According to Engadget, the entire mission could cost “$1 trillion over the course of 25 years.” Pascal Lee, Director of the Mars Institute, said the figure was a “matter of opinion” and based the cost of the decade-long Apollo program. In today’s terms, that number would be adjusted to $197 billion. The last time NASA had a moon landing was in 1972. The missions ultimately figures out how partnerships between NASA and other organizations work together on the “crewed missions to Mars.”
By Cheryl Werber
Photo Courtesy NASA