The first "Martians" from NASA will be very difficult

NASA over the years promises to send humans to Mars in their new huge rocket Space Launch System (SLS) and the new spacecraft "Orion". However, about the same time from the agency could not get clarification of the details of how exactly it plans to use the rocket-space equipment worth 40 billion dollars and do what no one has ever made. Not clarified the situation, even after the publication of the 36-page report on the development of NASA Mars in October 2015. And then came the last day, when this project began to emerge specific numbers and dates.

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It all began on March 21 when the US president Donald Trump signed a new decree that NASA should get people to Mars by 2033. A week later, the space agency has published the most detailed report on the issues of sending a man to Mars.

It should be noted that the report did not explicitly designed for people suffering from claustrophobia, as well as the faint of heart. Astronauts, who agreed to go to the Red Planet, will have to spend on board locked "tin" 3 long years, without having any chance of an emergency termination of the mission as soon as the machine crosses the orbit of the moon. Moreover, the plan involves only the orbital circled Mars. Landing on the surface of our neighbor is not planned.

At least it becomes clear from the documents submitted by William Gerstenmaier, NASA Deputy on manned space operations. The report Gerstenmaier spoke at a meeting of the advisory board space agency March 28.

"NASA continues to make active steps in the development of deep space. The moon is scheduled to begin construction and testing of the systems needed for the future and even more ambitious missions in deep space, including a manned mission to Mars, "- said the US space agency said in a press release.

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artistic representation lunar space station NASA Deep Space Gateway (left)

Edition Ars Technica review this document and decided to bring short excerpts from it. So, Gerstenmaier program on the question of a manned flight to Mars consists of five stages:

Phase 0

It includes the use of the International Space Station "as a test platform for testing and demonstration of key technologies research operations, as well as attracting the interest of its commercial use" on the part of companies such as SpaceX, Boeing, Orbital ATK, and others. Currently, the program is precisely in this phase.

Phase 1

Conduct six space launches for the period from 2018 to 2025. First, NASA is necessary to conduct the inaugural launch of SLS (rocket 98 meters high, which will be a modern replacement for the heavy rocket "Saturn 5" used in space missions "Apollo" for the delivery of astronauts on the moon). Considering that when you first start the SLS is planned to conduct the first field test of the spacecraft 'Orion', the agency plans to carry out after that five additional SLS launches. One in five of these startups will launch for the space mission Europa Clipper - sending a space probe to Jupiter. The unit will investigate the gas giant and its icy moon with hidden under the ice of the ocean, where it is assumed the existence of extraterrestrial life.

In the four remaining launches will be carried out on the Moon's orbit delivery of parts of the new space station Deep Space Gateway (DSG). Help to install and maintain the station will be carried out by crews of astronauts from four people.

"To DSG station considers the possibility of its translation in a fully autonomous, robotic operation and manned. In the latter case, the station can be used for manned missions to the Moon's surface, as well as within the orbital support for other missions within the solar system, "- says Gerstenmaier in a press release.

Phase 2

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Artistic representation of vehicle NASA Deep Space Transport spacecraft (right)

Phase 2 will be completed the construction of a lunar orbital space station and launch of Deep Space Transport transport spacecraft (DST) by 2027. Then, in the years 2028-2029 four astronaut lucky will take up missions long (up to 400 days) at the station, while in the 41-ton residential lunar orbit module. The purpose of their mission will be to verify that all DST systems.

Phase 3

Phase 3 will start somewhere in 2030, taking into account that the crew of the lunar station, as well as the transport ship DST no problems requiring changes to the provided plan. After that it will be produced two more launch-rocket SLS. In the first run on the lunar new station to be delivered and fuel provision. In the second - four astronauts. The first Martian crew. As part of their two-three-year flight to the Red Planet, "is likely to be carried out using a gravity assist from Venus, after which will follow a short-term presence on the orbit of Mars." At the same time "after leaving the near-moon space crew will hope to abort the mission and return home emergency", adds the publication Ars Technica.

Phase 4

Implementation of the "Phase 4" is planned after 2033 and at present is explained vaguely. It can be identified unless the "development and production of robotic missions" for the delivery of infrastructure, equipment and provisions to the surface of the Red Planet, well, actually, "the first manned landing on Mars."

Whose boots first set foot on the surface of Mars?

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All this, of course, sounds very interesting. It sounds so good that even too much. Especially against the background seriously reduce the budget allocated for the Aerospace Agency of the US Congress. It is worth recalling that the total cost of all missions "Apollo" cost the country more than 4 percent of the total US budget. Today, it would constitute about half a percent. But this moon. And we're talking about Mars. And not only alone on Mars, but also on the construction of a lunar orbital station, which will be sent to the side of the Red Planet.

Even if NASA really be able to realize this project, the agency may face competition from private companies, which is, incidentally, writes partners. Who knows, maybe, a private US aerospace sector is even able to overtake on the part of NASA missions to Mars. And it already has some of the prerequisites. Elon Musk, the founder of the aerospace company SpaceX, recently spoke about the plans to send humans to Mars by 2022. The Boeing Company, which is a direct competitor of SpaceX, also focused on the Red Planet. Musk, in turn, he said that it is not concerned about this, because its goal is "only" in the colonization of Mars and protect humanity from possible extinction in the world as a result of self-destruction or any of the fallen giant asteroid.

"The desire to learn Mars have expressed several sides. It's good. It is very good. In such a case would be useful to the presence of a reserve or alternative plan "- Musk said in August 2016.