CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – NASA could send astronauts to Mars by 2039, a new report by The Planetary Society says.
The report discussed the workability and cost of such a mission. They say their plan could fit within NASA’s budget.
“We believe we now have an example of a long-term, cost-constrained, executable humans-to-Mars program,” Scott Hubbard, a professor in the Stanford University Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of The Planetary Society’s board of directors, said in a press release.
The Planetary Society is a nongovernmental organization. According to their website, it’s the largest nongovernmental space advocacy organization in the world.
Along with Hubbard, Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye and John Logsdon, a professor emeritus at The George Washington University Space Policy Institute and also on The Planetary Society’s board of directors, spoke at the “Humans Orbiting Mars” workshop that took place between March 31 and April 1 in Washington D.C.
The 70 attendees at the workshop reached consensus on numerous key points, including that an orbital mission would be required before a manned mission, and an independent cost estimate showed that the program would fit into NASA’s budget after the agency ends its lead role in the International Space Station.
The experts stressed that an orbital mission in 2033 is a very important first step to eventually getting to a manned mission to the Red Planet.
The panelist all felt that any problems that may occur along the way would be more political than technical.
“I’m not saying the technical challenges aren’t extraordinary and very, very difficult,” Nye told Space.com. “And it’s going to take a lot of thoughtful engineers and scientists giving it a lot of thought and science. But the real problem is politics – or the real opportunity is politics.”
Logsdon and Hubbard agree with Nye.
“In the past, when the question of humans to Mars came up, I would typically cite a number of major hurdles: biomedical, launch systems and so forth,” Hubbard added. “And as of today, I think that those risks have either been reduced or you know how to minimize them, and so I am at the same place that John and Bill are, that I think the issue now is political will.
The report was presented at a news conference on April 2.