The new strategy can be achieved within projected NASA budgets by minimising new developments and relying mainly on already-available or planned NASA assets, the researchers noted.
According to Hoppy Price, John Baker and Firouz Naden from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, the step-wise mission to Mars will begin with a crew landing on Mars’s moon Phobos in 2033, followed by a short-stay mission in 2039 and a year-long landing in 2043.
In an editorial that appeared in the peer-reviewed journal New Space, G. Scott Hubbard from the Stanford University described the complex engineering, safety and health issues related to long-term space travel that have already been overcome.
“With all of these previous technical and fiscal issues addressed, we can again believe that the dream of sending people to Mars is alive,” Hubbard added.
NASA is offering an award of up to $30,000 for innovative design ideas to protect a spacecraft’s crew on the journey to Mars.
The US space agency is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s.