The U.S. space agency recently announced its goal of landing astronauts on Mars by 2033.
NASA’s administrator, Jim Bridenstine said that in order to achieve a Mars landing, the agency’s other projects such as the lunar mission will need to be move ahead quickly. Bridenstine said, “We can move up the Mars landing by moving up the Moon landing. The Moon is the proving ground.” The mission to land astronauts on the moon once again has been brought forward to 2024. According to NASA, the aim of the lunar mission is to learn how to extract and use the ice at the Moon’s south pole. “Water ice represents air to breathe, it represents water to drink, it represents fuel,” Bridenstine said. “The intent of course is to not just get humans to the surface of the Moon but prove that we can live and work on another world.”
Experts have expressed concern regarding the new timetable owing to delays in development of the Space Launch System (NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket). Sending a human mission to the red planet would require at least two years of planning and execution, given the distance to be traveled. Reaching Mars will take six months, while the distance to the moon can be covered in just three days. Furthermore, travelling to Mars and back depends on the positioning of the planet from the Earth. It needs to be on the same side of the Sun as the Earth, which only occurs every 2 years. Therefore the dates set are in 2031 and 2033. Jim Bridenstine, who is tasked with putting a price on the new schedule, said he will put across a request to update the budget on April 15th.
Dennis Nordstrom was born and raised in Tampa. Dennis has worked as a freelance journalist for nearly a decade and written for Tribune Media, the AP and MSNBC. As a journalist for Gator Ledger, Dennis mostly covers community events and human interest stories.