NASA Can’t Afford its Planned Manned Mars Mission

/ 4 years ago

NASA Can’t Afford its Planned Manned Mars Mission

Last year, US Congress issued a mandate for NASA to launch a manned Mars mission by 2039. Then, in March, that mandate became a bill which granted NASA $19.5 billion to fund humanity’s first voyage to the Red Planet. As much as $19.5 billion appears to be, though, it is not enough to achieve this lofty goal, according to NASA itself.

Failure to Land

The confession came during Wednesday’s propulsion meeting of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. NASA’s William H. Gerstenmaier said (via Ars Technica):

“I can’t put a date on humans on Mars, and the reason really is the other piece is, at the budget levels we described, this roughly 2 percent increase, we don’t have the surface systems available for Mars. And that entry, descent and landing is a huge challenge for us for Mars.”

According to Gerstenmaier, NASA has enough resources to launch a Mars mission, but not enough to actually land it. As you can guess, that’s a bit of a problem.

NASA Can’t Afford its Planned Manned Mars Mission

Manned Mars Mission Mandate Mangled?

Does Gerstenmaier’s admission mean NASA’s human mission to Mars is off? Well, his comments to not constitute an official statement. Gerstenmaier expressed his opinion, and maybe that opinion is incorrect. However, a NASA official saying publicly that the administration can’t afford such a mission is to be taken seriously.

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