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Astronaut on planet Mars sitting on a ledge



Mars: The next closest planet in our solar system and home to a couple of successful unmanned probes – plus more than a few unsuccessful ones as well. But with every mission, success or failure, we get ever closer to the day when a human being will take another small step, and with it, a great leap for humankind. But what will a trip to Mars look like? Fortunately, technology has advanced to the point where we can answer that question, both on paper and in the near future, by taking the trip ourselves.

The Who

Over the past two decades several agencies have made proclamations of a manned trip to Mars. Currently the two front runners are NASA and Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX. NASA has gone so far as to tentatively name one of their astronauts despite the timetable for the first manned mission being over a decade away. Alyssa Carson is NASA’s 19-year-old astronaut-in-training and will be in her early 30’s when the manned mission to Mars is planned to launch.

The When

That’s the big question: When will humankind set foot on Mars? Elon Musk and SpaceX had a goal of a manned mission in 2024 but announced earlier this year that the 2024 goal will be for an unmanned mission to deliver supplies to be used by the eventual manned team. Meanwhile, NASA is projecting a 2033 date as their launch window for their first manned mission.

The How

While several institutions like SpaceX and NASA are devising their own plans on how to get to land and return from Mars, there’ve been certain basic procedures that appear to be universal:

  • Once the spaceship leaves earth, it will need to refuel and get more supplies in orbit before making the trip to Mars.
  • A reusable rocket that takes off and lands vertically seems to be the agreed upon means of arriving on and taking-off from the surface of Mars.
  • Multiple unmanned missions will deliver payloads of supplies, food, shelter, and equipment ahead of the first manned missions.

For more information on travel here on earth and beyond, be sure to check out our other Odyssey Lake blog posts.