The NASA’s Artemis Moon program it is serving as a springboard for an eventual manned mission to Mars. A revised list of goals details a strategy for accomplishing this daunting feat.
The documentreleased Tuesday, serves as a model for how we will send humans to Mars. NASA has chosen to employ a “Moon to Mars” strategy, in which the space agency, with the help of commercial and international partners, will acquire the technology and skills needed to work on the Moon, and then use that knowledge to mount a manned mission. to Mars, tentatively scheduled for late of the 2030s or early 2040s.
Earlier this year, NASA drafted 50 high level objectives for the program, and in June He asked members of its workforce, the public, private companies and international partners who will participate. This was followed by a couple of workshops to develop these ideas even further.
In total, NASA received more than 5,000 recommendations, which it allowed the space agency to refine its pre-existing target list and add new items entirely. The resulting 63 goals reflect a “mature strategy” for NASA and its partners as they develop a plan for “sustained human presence and exploration throughout the solar system,” according to a statement. press from NASA.
“Our first draft of the Goals of Moon to Mars was intentionally broad, and the overwhelming responses we received encouraged us to be even broader in some areas, but more specific in others,” NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy wrote in the document.. “We went from 50 goals to 63, spanning multidisciplinary science, transportation and habitation, lunar and Martian infrastructure, operations, and a new domain: recurring principles.”
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Cleverly, the revised strategy remains closely aligned with NASA’s Artemis program, which seeks to return humans to the Moon, this time for good. The 63 high-level targets listed in the new document are thus a combination of Moon and Mars-specific requirements. The new goals were divided into five categories: recurring principles, science, infrastructure, transportation and settlementand operations.
Recurring principles reflect common themes across the goals, such as industry and international collaboration, ensuring crew health and returning them safely to Earth, maximizing the time available for crews to conduct scientific and engineering activities during course of the mission, and to “foster the expansion of the economic sphere beyond Earth’s orbit to support United States industry and innovation.” I don’t like the specific mention of “US industry and innovation,” as this international effort should also seek to foster the economies of partner countries, which is very likely to happen. make. But like so many things NASA says and does, there are political factors to consider; the space agency must always sympathize with Congress, the keeper of the money strings.
Science goals for Moon to Mars should touch planetary science, Sun science, human and biological science, and basic physics, among other fields. Ideally, we should be working to improve our understanding of the early solar system, the geology of both the Moon and Mars, the origin of life, space weather, the history of the Sun, and the deleterious effects of long-duration missions on solar systems. biological. , including humans, according to the document. During the program, we must “assess how the interaction of exploration systems and the deep space environment affect human health, performance, and space human factors to inform future exploration-class missions,” as explained in the plan. from the Moon to Mars.
Specific infrastructure goals for the lunar and martian environments include power generation, various robotic capabilities, a communications, navigation, and timing infrastructure (i.e., ensuring synchronization between devices, some of which will be separated by great distances), and the use of resources in the area. For transportation and housing, the plan calls for the development of “an integrated system of systems to carry out a campaign of human exploration missions to the Moon and Mars, while living and working on the lunar and Martian surface, with a return Safe to Earth.”
Operational requirements to enable human missions to both the Moon and Mars include establishing command and control processes, operating surface mobility systems (such as spacesuits, tools, and vehicles), and consideration of communications delays. Fascinatingly, the document also calls for the “ability to find, repair, upgrade, or use instruments and equipment from robotic landers or previous human missions to the surface of the Moon and Mars.” This surprises me, and I suddenly imagine the Martian crews poaching the lander. NASA’s InSight lander in looking for parts or repairing the late Opportunity rover .
“We’re helping manage humanity’s global movement into deep space,” Jim Free, NASA associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, said in the news release. “The goals will help ensure that a long-term strategy for solar system exploration can maintain constancy of purpose and withstand political and funding changes.”
These goals are both necessary and daunting as project planners seek to meet mission objectives while ensuring the safety of their crews. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk claims it will plant a million colonists on Mars by 2050, you should take note. There’s more to getting to Mars than just filling Starships with colonists and wishing them luck.