The space race is beginning to heat up again. It is hard to believe that the first time humans landed on the moon was 47 years ago. We seem to hate hit the ceiling for space travel with the mood – our probes and vehicles have gone much farther than the moon but the moon is as far as we have been able to send a human. That may soon be changing with the plans to send people to Mars. There are many different reasons that we haven’t done so already but they are being steadily solved.
Here is how it will be possible that in a decade or two there will be someone who puts their feet on Mars and begins the next step in human space travel.
The Journey to Mars is incredibly long
There’s a very simple reason that we were able to get to the moon almost 50 years ago but haven’t been able to reach mars until now; Mars is incredibly far away when compared to the moon. It takes us about 3 days to get to the moon. That means we need equipment, fuel, and food for the astronauts for only 3 days of travel both ways. The journey to Mars, on the other hand, takes more than 300 days. More importantly, it takes us 300 days when Mars is the closest it is to Earth and that happens only once every two years.
Weight of Equipment and Supplies is a major roadblock
When we talk about space travel weight is one of the biggest constraints we have. We already have unmanned spacecraft that can go further than Mars and take pictures. Putting a human inside the spacecraft changes the equation completely. No mission is going to depend on just one person; you will need a team of 3-4 people for a mission as big as the journey to Mars, each of them with their own specialty in a field of science. This means that the spacecraft being used to send the people needs to store 300 days worth of food and supplies just to reach Mars and much more for a trip back.
It is almost impossible to take a ship, will it with 600 days worth of food and supplies, send it to Mars, and then launch it from Mars back to earth. You also don’t need just food and supplies for the travel – the astronauts will only be able to return when the planets are aligned again, so you will years worth of supplies while the astronauts stay on Mars and wait for the opportunity to return.
The Journey to Mars will be in multiple parts
NASA and SpaceX both have plans in action to send a person to Mars. NASA is aiming for 2030s while SpaceX has an incredibly ambitious plan to send a person to Mars by 2024. Both the plans focus on multiple trips to solve the weight issue. On the first trip the equipment will be sent. Then two years later on more supplies and equipment will be sent. By the time a person gets into the spacecraft to go to Mars the equipment to explore Mars and supplies for the trip back will already be on Mars.
Can we send a human to Mars? We definitely can, and advances in technology will play a major part (we’d LOVE to assist!). It will just take us a decade or two and lot of investment. It is very possible that we will see a human putting their feet on Mars in our lifetimes and we are incredibly excited about it.