Here’s some bummer news for those hoping we’d reach Mars one day. After a Congressional hearing earlier this month, it’s looking like NASA may not be able to send people the Red Planet any time soon.
The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology weren’t too convinced by NASA’s Journey to Mars Initiative claiming its goals aren’t feasible.
NASA is currently working on the Space Launch System (SLS) and a crew capsule called the Orion with the hopes of getting to Mars by 2023. There are plans for a test launch of the SLS and Orion in 2018. However, after examining the progress on these spacecrafts, NASA seems pretty behind. They have yet to create necessary features like habitat modules as well as landing and launching systems.
The committee also noted that NASA’s timeline seems unspecified. At this point, the SLS is scheduled to be a part of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (or ARM), which aims to bring in a small piece of an asteroid into lunar orbit. There are no concrete plans for the SLS in terms of the Mars initiative. On top of that, the committee doesn’t seem too pleased with ARM to begin with. Texas representative Lamar Smith (R) stating, “This is a misguided mission without a mission, without a launch date, and without ties to exploration goals. It’s just a time-wasting distraction.”
Obviously cost came into play during the hearing. NASA predicts a manned expedition to Mars could be over half a trillion dollars. However, because NASA has yet to develop the aforementioned hardware as well as the technology to combat the risks of radiation, that price could go way up.
The committee urged NASA to focus on the more practical goal of another manned trip to the Moon. Clearly, the US wants to maintain a strong presence on the lunar surface, but a mission to the Moon could aid with the development of mining water or generating rocket fuel.
Source: The Verge