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Apr 06 2015

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Planetary Society weighs in on timeline to get to Mars

Planetary Society: Orbiting Mars Is Critical Precursor to Human Landing. The Planetary Society held a workshop on 2 April titled “Humans Orbiting Mars” where they concluded that a manned orbital mission (like Apollo 8) around Mars in 2033 should be conducted before a landing attempt in 2039.

I actually don’t buy that — the article itself says that the reason Apollo 8 didn’t land on the Moon was because the Lunar Excursion Module was not ready at that time. I see no good reason why we should send humans to orbit Mars just to orbit Mars.

TPS organized the one-and-a-half day workshop in Washington, DC where 70 participants listened to a plan developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that calls for sending the first humans to orbit Mars in 2033 and a landing mission in 2039. Several intermediate steps closer to home in cis-lunar space precede the 2033 mission. The plan is said to be executable within a NASA human spaceflight budget that grows only with inflation, assuming that the International Space Station is terminated (and the associated funding redirected to this program) in 2028, or, better yet, 2024

Unfortunately, the report itself has not been released. I would be very interested in hearing the details of cis-lunar intermediate steps. I would be OK with terminating funding for the ISS if either 1) We could find a commercial entity to take it over (Hilton Hotel in space?),or 2) there were other commercial stations on-orbit by then that could take over the role that the ISS currently fills (hello, Bigelow Aerospace!).

Clearly, the announcement that ARM will only pluck a boulder off an asteroid and end it into Lunar Orbit has convinced everyone that NASA doesn’t have a real strategic plan to get to Mars, and more folks are pushing back against the whole ARM (and/or Mars) strategy for NASA. Such as it is…

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/04/06/planetary-society-weighs-in-on-timeline-to-get-to-mars/

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