Sending missions to Mars isn’t as easy as it may seem at first glance. The solar system is continuously shifting as planets orbit the Sun, so it’s never a straight line from the Earth to another world. That said, how long does it actually take to get to Mars?
The answer to that question depends on how close Mars is to Earth when we launch said mission. NASA usually waits until Mars gets close to Earth before starting a mission to conserve fuel and reach the destination more quickly. But even then, things are still complicated.
NASA uses a particular path to get to Mars known as the Hohmann Transfer method; this involves sending the spacecraft into a special orbit such that it uses little fuel and intercepts Mars as it orbits the Sun.
In a best-case scenario, this method takes approximately 260 days (8-9 months) to send a spacecraft from Earth to Mars, but as you might come to expect, that’s still a long time to wait.
With a growing interest in crewed Martian exploration missions, the pressure is on to develop faster ways of traveling to Mars. NASA aims to achieve this goal by the 2030’s.