Obama supports human mission to Mars by 2030
Image credit: Reuters
US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he would help send people to Mars as soon as 14 years from now, pledging to work with private companies to “to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space.”
“We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time,” Obama said in an opinion piece for CNN posted to its website.
Obama’s comments come ahead of a meeting planned by the White House in Pittsburgh this week aimed at teaming up scientists, students and others to further efforts to develop the commercial space market, according to the CNN article.
While private companies are already working on missions to space - including those to the International Space Station - humans have yet to travel to Mars, Earth’s closest planetary neighbour some 35 million miles (56 million kilometres) away at their closest point in orbit, according to Nasa. Like Earth, the so-called Red Planet also has seasons and a 2012 Nasa mission found conditions there once supported microbial life.
Nasa experts have estimated that it would take approximately nine months to get to Mars, depending on rocket velocity. A high-speed trip could take as little as 130 days, it has further been suggested on the space agency’s web site.
It has been decades since the United States first sent astronauts to the Moon, eventually landing in 1969, and efforts to fund the space program have faltered in recent years over concerns about government spending and fiscal priorities.