As the space agency prepares launch systems to explore the solar system in 2018, a Congressional committee has raised questions about the feasibility of a manned Mars mission.
NASA has been talking a lot about the first manned mission to Mars projected for the coming years, but does the space agency really have the clout to pull off such a magnificent feat? According to a Scientific American report, the space agency has announced that it has prepared 13 tiny satellites, called cubesats, that will hitch a ride on the first space flight of its new rocket.
The 13 cubesats will be sent to explore the depths of the solar system, from the moon to Mars. The NASA megarocket, called the Space Launch System, will bring the cubesats into space in 2018.
While NASA appears to be busy with new launch projects, they have been relatively silent on how they plan to get humans to mars within the coming decades. NASA has stated that this is their goal, yet the space agency was torn to shreds when a Congressional committee, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, began to look into the Mars plans as they stand today.
The committee found that while NASA wants to land people on the surface of Mars in the 2030s, the space agency is seriously lacking in the funding it would require to reach the red planet. With the upcoming SLS test and the launch of an Orion space capsule scheduled for 2023, the committee wondered when NASA would have the time to organize their most ambitious project to date.
As an apparent dig on NASA, the committee members suggested that the agency direct its attention to the moon.
The trip to Mars would require funding that most government agencies could only dream of having. Congressional committee members estimated that it would take roughly $1 trillion worth of investments in equipment, research, and infrastructure to reach Mars. Despite NASA’s dedicated work on the Mars project, it’s simply not looking like enough.
Perhaps private space exploration companies will save the Mars mission, but as it stands now, NASA is already overworked and underfunded without worrying about sending people to Mars.
A press release from the Congressional Committee on Science, Space, and Technology can be found here.