Mars: course, bring people. Musk ambitiously claims that the

Mars: The Next
Destination

For
many years, people have looked to Mars with awe and curiosity. It has been the
topic of science-fiction novels and shows for decades. Being the planet after
Earth in the solar system with nearly livable environments, it is easy to see
why people have taken interest. As of now, the barren, red planet remains
untouched by humans. However, in the coming years, this may change. Though
difficult, advancements in space travel from NASA and SpaceX have made a manned
mission far from impossible.

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The
first of many hurdles for sending people to Mars is the distance. On average,
Mars is about 225 million km away from Earth (Redd, “How Long Does It Take to
Get to Mars?”). Even at their closest distance from each other, they are still
significantly far away. Redd states that “The closest recorded approach of the
two planets occurred in 2003, when they were only 34.8 million miles (56
million km) apart.” With such a massive distance between Earth and Mars, advancements
must be made with fuel efficiency. Commands and communication would be greatly
delayed as well, meaning astronauts must be prepared for any unforeseen
problems.

The
Martian atmosphere is a massive issue for landing humans. Earth’s atmosphere is
“over 100 times denser than Mars’ atmosphere” (Nasa, “All About Mars”). The
large payload of humans and equipment could not be slowed down by parachute. There
is also no breathable air on mars either. Nasa goes on to say that the air is
made up of 96% carbon dioxide and 0% oxygen. Due to the thin atmosphere, Mars is
subject to high amounts of radiation. Any human on the planet would have to
constantly be protected from the sun’s radioactive flares.

Elon
Musk, founder of SpaceX, claimed that he has solved the issue of reaching the
destination. In his presentation, Musk reveals that the key is to use reusable
and refuellable rockets. He explains that the rocket first goes into Earth’s
orbit, where another ship will refuel it before heading to Mars. Musk further
explains that the newly designed “BFR” rocket is “expected to have a payload
capability of 150 tons” (SpaceX, 2017). Such a payload size would be used to
create the infrastructure on the planet and, of course, bring people. Musk
ambitiously claims that the preparations for Human colonization will begin in
2022. The process will include landing 2 cargo ships on Mars, confirm water
resources, and place support infrastructure for humans. Then 2 years later, he
claims that SpaceX will bring the first people to the red planet and begin
producing propellant plants and living bases.

Nasa
has different plans of getting people to Mars. Although they have not provided
a descriptive overview of the trip, they do have a basic outline. The plan
begins in the 2020’s, where Nasa will “send astronauts on a yearlong mission
into this deep space proving ground” (Nasa, 2016). After proving that humans
are capable of deep space, Nasa mentions in the article that they will send
unmanned, test trips to the planet. In the article mentioned previously, Nasa
declares that they will send people by the 2030’s. They do not provide
information relating to how these missions will take place, but just make
claims about colonizing the planet.

Regardless
of the path used to reaching the planet, the following events must remain the
same. To survive on a foreign planet,

The biggest difficulty of going to a different
planet is undoubtedly the cost to do so. Such a mission to Mars would cost a
tremendous amount of money. Take the Apollo missions for example. The
government spent “$24 billion in 1960’s dollars…4 percent of U.S. GDP to do
Apollo” (Wile, 2017). Due to the scale and nature of going 225 million km
(approximately 140 million miles), it would cost much more than the Apollo
missions. Wile estimates in his article that it would cost around $1 trillion
dollars to send individuals on such a trip. That is more than 5% of the U.S.
GDP. Such a massive project would need overwhelming support from the government
and people of the United States.

As Kennedy once said, “We choose to go to the
moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but
because they are hard.” The same can be said about Mars, and the opportunities
it bears.