Anticipation of putting people on Mars is growing, especially because of all the hype from NASA and SpaceX to eventually have permanent human settlement there. On the other hand, such goals still feel like they are out of reach for numerous technical reasons.
Regardless, the United States government is now stepping up to the plate and telling NASA that it’s time to begin considering our options for getting there as soon as possible. In a new bill that has been passed unanimously by Congress, NASA is being asked to realize this goal by the 2030s indefinitely. The bill provides the space agency with $19.5 billion worth of funding for the year of 2017.
Image Credit: ahundt/Pixabay
NASA originally revealed their rough draft plans for sending humans to Mars back in 2015 and submitted them to Congress, but ideas for making the trip possible have since evolved and Congress is calling for a more mature roadmap.
What we do know is NASA would have to utilize their massive, heavy-lifting Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to send things to Mars. This will be the most powerful rocket NASA has ever made and said rocket isn’t quite ready for the events to come yet. This funding is expected to help make the rocket become a reality.
The bill also covers some other important space-related initiatives, including sending a probe to Europa to study a possible subsurface ocean, sending the Mars 2020 rover to the red planet to help search for life, and searching for unknown near-earth objects (NEOs) that could potentially rip holes in our planet and pose safety risks in the future.
Of course, the bill still needs to make it past President Trump. This likely won’t be much of a problem considering his outspoken support of space exploration previously, but at this point in time the bill is still just a bill.
It’s worth noting that this is the first bill of its kind to be issued for NASA with completely new initiatives in more than six years, which is huge. Not only is this good for NASA, but it’s good for humanity as a whole because it helps to propel our scientific capabilities and understanding forward.
There is a lot of work to be done if Mars habitation is to be made a reality. Not only do we need reliable transportation, but we need to set up a place where humans can safely live on the red planet despite how it lacks a protective atmosphere and we need to have a greater understanding of how space travel impacts human health.
Dealing with the atmosphere problem, a recent concept for putting human visitors to Mars in ice domes would be perfect for repelling radiation from space and allowing astronauts to live safely. Human health is also being actively looked into thanks to the year-in-space mission that NASA astronaut Scott Kelly recently participated in with his identical twin brother.
While much of this futuristic space science will probably take a lot of time to bring to fruition, the good news is that should this bill pass, NASA will get the funding it needs to ensure history-making space events happen in the foreseeable future. It should be very intriguing to see where this goes.
Source: Space News