By: Bryan Tropeano
If you are a fan of science fiction movies like Star Wars, Interstellar, Armageddon and all the other great sci-fi movies then you must be excited about people on Mars. Yes, NASA is planning a mission on Mars, but this time there isn’t going to be any Mars Rover taking part in it. Instead, human beings will land on Mars without ever coming back to Earth. Sounds a bit optimistic but no one thought that man will step foot on the moon and that happened (sorry skeptics).
If you look back 50 years you will be amazed by what mankind achieved by sending a man on the moon. It will be surprising for most of us to know that the technology used to get man on the moon is far inferior to the technology used in our smartphones today. Luckily, we are much more technologically advanced today.
We have super computers that can reach speeds up to 33.86 petaFLOPS. And there is so much power in our smartphones, desktops, tablets and even wearables. Mankind has more than enough technology and resources to travel in space. They sent a rover in Mars and successfully deployed a team in space who is living there for the past year. All these things were not possible a 20-30 years ago but now they have been achieved.
Reaching Mars is not an easy goal to achieve. The red planet is approximately 140 million miles away from Earth and it will take about 6 months to reach it. There are hundreds and thousands of things to look after so it will take some time. The good thing is that NASA has help from private companies in this regard which is making Mission Mars a possibility.
SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are two private companies which are actively working on space missions. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors is confident that his company will help a great deal in the Mars mission. Virgin Galactic is more of a tourism company that is planning premium consumer flights to space for a healthy fees.
SpaceX has seen tremendous progress in its space missions. It is the only company which helped NASA re-supply the International Space Station (ISS) and built a capsule that can be attached to a rocket and house a human crew. SpaceX does not have a lack of resources because Elon Musk is a billionaire and these NASA missions bring a good amount of money.
Success stories are always backed by failures. The mission to the moon was successful after many failures as well. The Apollo 1 caught fire on the Launchpad, the Challenger and Columbia space shuttles were not successful. All these failures cost the lives of the crew members but in the end the goal was achieved.
Similarly, SpaceX has witnesses some failures as well. Its latest Falcon 9 rocket exploded just after launch and its repeated attempts to land a rocket have failed as well. At the same time Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo also crashed at the test site. After all these failures there is still hope and everyone is optimistic about getting man to Mars.
NASA says that by 2020 it will send astronauts to study asteroids and bring them close to the moon. In 2030s, it will land a crew on Mars who will explore the promise land. The need for exploration is driving these companies towards success. Many scientists are backing the Mars missions, even Apollo 11’s astronaut Buzz Aldrin has mentioned in his books that Mars should be the next exploration target for us.
A non-profit organization Mars One is also raising funds for a one way mission to Mars. It will send a group of people to Mars and they will live their permanently. Although the company has received a lot criticism because it does not have a clear plan for its mission but in its defense no one has a clear plan for Mars yet.
President Obama has given a timeline of mid 2030s for the Mars mission and NASA is more than happy to comply with it. Elon Musk has boldly stated in one of his interviews that man will be on Mars in less than 10 years. This is the first time NASA and private companies are working together for such a massive mission. The resources and technology have helped them gain mutual benefits.
Private companies do not have any budget limitations and NASA has scientist to get the job done. Once companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactics achieve their goals without failures then the progress will be rapid. They will have rockets to take man to Mars and NASA will train astronauts. It requires massive planning because you need to think about fuel for a 280 million mile flight as well as food and supplies for more than a year.
For now the mission is to get people to space or possibly to the moon. Luxurious flights to the moon by Virgin Galactics will be a massive achievement while SpaceX accommodates NASA’s requirements of supplying the ISS.
If we are lucky enough we will witness the first step by mankind on Mars in the next 20 years. I’ll certainly be watching.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryan Tropeano is a senior producer and a regular reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Washington D.C. and loves all things Tech.