President Obama plans for Americans to reach Mars by the end of the 2030s, he said in a CNN op-ed today.
“We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time,” Obama wrote.
Achieving this, he wrote, will require NASA to work with private companies, which have become a key part of the American space program. Private companies have already made deliveries to the International Space Station and will soon be allowed to hook up habitat modules to the ISS for the first time. Obama added that NASA is already working with “commercial partners to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space.”
Obama’s target of reaching Mars in the 2030s is not nearly as aggressive as the one announced by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in January, who said his company is hoping to put people on the red planet in 2025.
Whether it’s achieved by the government, a private company, or a combination of the two, a successful trip to Mars won’t happen until some pretty enormous problems are solved. For example, a study released Monday said that astronauts on their way to Mars would encounter so much cosmic radiation that they’re likely to suffer brain damage.