NEW YORK: NASA on Thursday outlined the many challenges that remain before humans can set foot on Mars, calling the problems “solvable” but setting no firm date for an astronaut mission to the Red Planet.
Updated details of the US space agency’s Mars strategy were contained in a 36-page document released to the public ahead of upcoming talks with Congress about budgets for space exploration and a major international meeting of the space industry to be held in Jerusalem next week.
The United States is “closer to sending American astronauts to Mars than at any point in our history,” said NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
“In the coming weeks, I look forward to continuing to discuss the details of our plan with members of Congress, as well as our commercial and our international partners, many of whom will be attending the International Astronautical Congress next week,” he said in a statement.
Astronauts who journey to Mars could spend three years in deep space, where radiation is high and so are the risks of cancer, bone loss and immune problems, said the document, called “NASA’s Journey to Mars: Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration.”
“Living and working in space require accepting risk, and the journey is worth the risk,” it said, calling Mars “an achievable goal” and “the next tangible frontier for expanding human presence.”