US space agency NASA has admitted that it doesn’t have enough money to send humans to Mars.
This announcement comes in the form of statements made by NASA’s chief of human spaceflights William Gerstenmaier at a meeting of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts held on July 12. NASA has been pushing forward with its plans to send humans to Mars for quite some time now.
But it turns out that projects associated with Mars including Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft are costing too much – a burden that is getting harder to bear for NASA. The space agency hasn’t even started designing vehicles to land on Mars or ascend from the surface, reports claim.
“I can’t put a date on humans on Mars, and the reason really is…at the budget level we described, this roughly two per cent increase, we don’t have the surface systems available for Mars,” said Gerstenmaier. “And that entry, descent, and landing is a huge challenge for us for Mars.”
Gerstenmaier however opened the door to the possibility of landing humans on Moon again as NASA has the “support to extensive Moon surface program.” He said that with the Deep Space Gateway they have the ability to support an extensive Moon surface program.
Budget issues aren’t new!
This is not the first time that budget issues have cropped up that stemmed the idea of sending humans to Mars. Back in 2015 NASA published a 35-page report on its “Journey to Mars” and in that report it reaffirmed its intent to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. But the plan did not address the specific cost of a human mission to the Red Planet, which has been standard practice for the space agency in the five years it has been talking about it.
The National Research Council has studied the budget scenario in depth at the time and concluded in its 2014 Pathways to Exploration report that “With current flat or even inflation-adjusted budget projections for human spaceflight, there are no viable pathways to Mars.”