This illustration shows a NASA spacecraft, which carried the Curiosity robot to Mars in August 2012.© REUTERS/ NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout
- Russia to Explore Moon, Mars by 2030 - Deputy PM
- NASA Plans for Asteroids, Astronauts and a Trip to Mars
- ISS Cosmonauts Model Manually Controlled Landing on Mars
- Russia, Europe Sign Mars Probe Project Deal
- Life on Mars Could Have Existed in Ancient Times: NASA
WASHINGTON, MAY 6 (By Karin Zeitvogel for RIA Novosti) – NASA is on target to put astronauts on Mars by 2030, but needs a little help from its friends with experience in space, including Russia, to successfully pull off the first manned flight to the red planet, Charles Bolden, the head of the US space agency, said Monday.
“I can tell you that the plan that we have in place, the Mars strategy as supported by the president… will have humans in the Martian environment by the year 2030,” Bolden said in a speech to open the three-day Humans to Mars conference in Washington.
US President Barack Obama said in a speech three years ago at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida that the United States would land on and redirect an asteroid by 2025 and then venture on to Mars, where it would send a manned mission by 2030.
“Capturing” an asteroid requires NASA to develop a launch system powerful enough to carry humans out of low-earth orbit, which is essential technology for a mission to Mars.
To push the captured asteroid out of its orbit, NASA is developing a solar electric propulsion system, which would also likely end up on a manned mission to Mars, along with massive solar arrays that a NASA official at the conference said “would fold up like origami into the rocket for the launch, and then be unfolded on Mars” to provide energy for the habitat that would be built there.
The rocket that will carry humans to and from Mars has to be faster than anything that has been developed before in order to limit astronaut time in space and prevent too much exposure to radiation during the journey.
And before humans head to the red planet, scientists are studying the effects to the human body of long-term stays in space on the International Space Station (ISS).
Bolden called developing the tools to capture asteroids and to go to Mars an “unprecedented technological challenge” that is boosting competition among international companies and space agencies.
“Interest in sending humans to Mars has never been higher both from our international counterparts and from American companies,” he said.
“We talk a lot with our international partners, including the Russians, about how to execute this exploration strategy,” Bolden told RIA Novosti.
“The Russians are involved with the European Space Agency (ESA) on ExoMars – they’re providing the launch vehicles for that – so we’re partnering with them on the European ExoMars missions,” which are due to launch in 2016 and 2018 to look for signs of life on Mars.
A Russian descent module, including a surface platform equipped with scientific instruments, will deliver the ESA rover that will be carried to Mars in 2018.
A retired middle school teacher at the conference, who now works in NASA’s education program, urged NASA to work closely with the Russians, noting that “they landed on Venus several times” during the Soviet era.
“The Russians have a lot of valuable experience to share with us and everyone else,” she said, asking not to be named.
But the NASA administrator was taken to task by long-time space experts for saying, “The United States is still the only nation to have successfully landed missions on the Martian surface.”
“He’s wrong. The Russians landed there with Mars 3 and they did it first,” said Robert Farquhar, executive for space exploration for private space company KinetX Aerospace, and a former flight director for deep-space projects for NASA.
The Soviet space program’s Mars 3 mission made a soft landing on the Red Planet on December 2, 1971 and sent data back to earth for 14.5 seconds before the transmissions stopped abruptly.
Russia said last month that it will develop new technology including huge new rockets for manned flights to the moon and Mars, by the same year that the Americans are aiming for Mars – 2030.
Add to blog
You may place this material on your blog by copying the link.
Image Galleries: Hungry Hippos, Tiny Tamarins and Other Animal News
Infographics: First Russian Smartphone
Russia has surged ahead on the foreign policy stage, but this is not enough to remain a great power. The tough-minded policies and masterful diplomacy of Russia’s leadership have maximized the country’s position in the world, and are now the main source of its international influence and prestige. Russia’s foreign policy in the next decade depends entirely on what happens at home.