NASA CAN’T AFFORD TO PUT HUMANS ON MARS
The United States space agency has to land Mars on humans a priority of its exploration programs and the bipartisan legislation promised in 2010 to develop the ability to send humans to the planet by 2030.
But it remains a major problem between humanity and the red planet: money.
Emails and Alerts for Technology and Science – Get the Best of Newsweek Technology and Science Magazine Sent to Your Mailbox
The head of NASA’s space exploration program, William Gerstenmaier, said Wednesday that with its current budget, the agency simply can not afford the cost of propelling a spacecraft to Mars.
“On this horizon, in the 2030s, I can not put dates on humans on Mars,” Gerstenmaier said Wednesday in response to a question during a propulsion meeting of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Georgia.
More: Rigid space suits are the order of the day for astronauts hoping to survive life on Mars
“At the budget levels we have described, this is about an increase of about 2 percent, 100 that do not have surface systems available for March, this entry, landing and landing is a big challenge for us to Mars. ”
NASA landed several unmanned exploration vehicles on Mars in the past. The Curiosity rover, which landed at Marsh in August 2012 and will soon hold its fifth anniversary exploration of the planet, costs about $ 2.5 billion.
Gerstenmaier said an intelligent Mission to Mars would weigh about twenty times what previous Rover weighed. “So this is an increase of twenty times,” he said, which probably means a much higher cost.
Legislators attribute the NASA budget to $ 19.5 billion for fiscal year 2017, which is less than half of one percent of the total federal budget.
The agency did not give a specific figure for the cost of the manned mission to Mars, and estimates vary depending on the source. In 2012, the head of NASA’s Propulsion Laboratory Brent Sherwood, estimates that the project could cost up to $ 100 billion in 30 or 40 years.
Most recently, Pascal Lee, director of the Mars Institute, a nonprofit research group funded in part by NASA and based on a NASA research center in Silicon Valley, said in May that a human mission to March could cost up to $ 1 billion over 25 years.
Private organizations working on their own missions to Mars have estimated lower costs. Mars One, a Dutch-Swiss organization to establish a permanent settlement on Mars, plans to bring four people to March at a cost of $ 6 billion. SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who said he wanted to send humans to Mars in the early 2020s, estimated the cost at $ 10 billion per person by 2016.
Landing on Mars poses many threats to a manned mission. The spacecraft must tilt its entrance into the atmosphere of Mars correctly: if it is too rigid, the machine can burn, and if it is too low, the machine can completely lose the planet.
Astronauts must use reverse and parachute to slow down the ship so it will not be destroyed by impact on the surface. The machine must also locate a safe landing surface on the rough terrain of Mars, whose parts are emerging gigantic craters.