Riding high on the buzz from The Martian, NASA is making a point to remind the world that we really are trying to get actual humans to Mars. Want to read the 36-page breakdown of how we’re going to do it?
Dubbed NASA’s “Journey to Mars,” the document details three major steps aimed at getting humans to the Red Planet within the next few decades. Not surprisingly, the whole plan is looking toward the long game — with indirectly related steps already rolling.
Step one is pretty much underway right now, with astronauts spending one-year missions on the International Space Station. That’s not a record-breaking stint, but this is the first time scientists have made an effort to closely monitor the effects of long-term space life. If we plan on getting to Mars, it’s going to take a while. So they want to make sure we’re going to be in good shape when we get there.
Step two will take us back around the moon, specifically the asteroid redirect mission. The purpose is to develop and test out new tech to essentially rope in a piece of an asteroid and place it in orbit around the moon. Then study it. Originally, the redirect mission was supposed to rope in a full-sized asteroid and land humans on it. But, that seems to have been scaled back. A decision which, it’s worth noting, came in the wake of some concerns over the true viability of focusing on a redirect mission.
Step three calls for actually getting humans to Mars, but don’t expect them to land very quickly. Much like the Apollo missions, it seems NASA will send astronauts on an orbiting mission to get a closer look before considering a future landing mission. NASA will also be spending the next several years studying Mars data to figure out exactly where we want to set up shop once we arrive.
Read up on the full report right here.