Friday, June 21, 2013

For NASA, Mars Beyond Reach Without Budget Boost

If NASA continues to be funded at its current levels, a manned mission to Mars could be permanently beyond reach, space industry experts say.

When asked how soon astronauts could potentially set foot on Mars under NASA’s current budget constraints, Thomas Young, the former executive vice president of Lockheed Martin, says the outlook is bleak.

“With the current budget, bear with me, I would probably say never,” Young said during a meeting of the U.S. House of Representative’s space subcommittee today (June 19).

Steven Squyres, the principal investigator for NASA’s Opportunity rover now exploring Mars, agreed. Squyres, an astronomy professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., also gave testimony before the House subcommittee.

Young said that if the public and government officials treat a mission to Mars with the importance of the first mission to the moon, it is possible to put boots on the Red Planet in a little more than a decade from now.

“Mars is harder; there are a lot of significant issues to resolve before going to Mars,” Young said. “But I think that if we had the same national commitment to it [as we did to going to the moon], I would say by 2025, we could land on Mars.”

The current draft of NASA’s budget produced by the House asks the space agency to develop a roadmap that will define the technical capabilities needed to send humans to Mars sometime in the future.

Full article: http://www.space.com … se.html?cmpid=514630



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