Thursday, November 29, 2007

Destination Mars

Yesterday, NASA released information about a manned trip to Mars in 2031. Although much of the information will surely change before the mission actually begins, this BBC News article contains interesting information about the planned mission.

Some of the key points are:

  • The mission will last 30 months, including 16 on Mars

  • Cargo and living quarters will be sent separately, and a few years ahead of time

  • The shuttle will be powered by 3 or 4 Ares V rockets fueled by cryogenic fuel

  • The astronauts will be supported by a closed-loop habitat system which will recycle their air and water and allow fruits and vegetables to be grown on-board

  • The mission will cost anywhere between 20 and 450 billion dollars
Overall, this is very exciting news. Few will deny that space exploration is important to our future, though many doubt anything useful will come of it. To me, the chance of being able to habitat elsewhere in the solar system is worth the extreme cost. Even if such a mission is a complete failure, there will be many useful technological advancements that will spawn from the investment.

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