In 2014, a report from the National Acadamies stated that NASA‘s current plan to go to Mars wouldn’t be feasible until at least 2046, despite the plan’s objective to do so in the early 2030’s. In the spring of last year, the Planetary Society answered those issues with an “orbit first” plan development workshop . “Instead of landing on the first go, NASA could lay out a series of missions that use existing programs, strategically build experience and capability, and spread out cost. The orbit-first concept would send astronauts near the Moon throughout the 2020s, to Mars orbit and Phobos in 2033, and finally to the surface of Mars by 2039 to begin an ongoing program of exploration,” says the piece on Planetary.org.
The workshop, hosted by Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye and held in Washington D.C., brought together experts from various NASA centers and other scientific fields. The plan includes a cost efficient humans-to-Mars program by utilizing already available technologies and separating the trip into two different missions: orbit Mars first and then follow with boots on Mars a few years later. This orbital mission would allow researchers to check out the Red Planet as well as its moon, Phobos. The plan would also give the space community much-needed experience of what deep space travel would be like on humans beyond even the” Year In Space” trial that Scott Kelly and his fellow ISS cosmonaut have been experimenting with this last year. The article states that”such a program would fit within a budget that grows with inflation after NASA ends its lead role in the International Space Station.” This cheaper alternative could get the world excited about landing a man on Mars, in the same way earlier Apollo missions excited people about man’s first steps on the moon. This plan could possibly connect all the leading space frontrunners in a unified effort to a lasting presence on the planet. So is this an effective alternative plan to NASA’s current Journey To Mars idea? Especially after the current Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) report says that Journey To Mars may have too many problems to execute at this time? We should see soon as this plan gains more traction throughout the community.