By: Devin Fussa
Humanity has long dreamed of landing on Mars. On October 11 of this year, President Barack Obama declared his intent to further analyze our big, red neighbor. “We have set a clear goal… 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.” President Obama’s words reflect his goal to reach Mars within just over a decade, a feat unprecedented in history. While this may seem a lofty target, such an action is meant to propel science back into the focus of the American discussion.
To achieve this goal, America will need to rely heavily on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Dating back to 1960, NASA has sent a series of orbiters and rovers to Mars, hoping to collect data on weather and abiotic material, among other information. Their pursuit of knowledge has continued through the years, numerous discoveries having been made in recent times. Just last year, for example, NASA confirmed that running water is present on Mars. With their desired mode of transportation already under development, the Orion Spacecraft is set to be complete by 2021. The objective of reaching Mars is incredibly important for NASA, as they strive to further implant America into the history of space exploration.
And while NASA is busy designing the trip to Mars, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk also has an interest in the planet’s colonization. SpaceX is a privately funded aerospace company that specializes in the flight and creation of rockets. Musk recently expressed his desire to colonize Mars in the near future. Citing his goal to make humans a “planetary species,” he wants to populate Mars within 50-150 years. According to CNN, “Musk has already said he wants to make the first unmanned trip to Mars before 2018. Next, he wants to send the first humans to Mars in 2024, with the spacecraft touching down in 2025.” While Musk himself has acknowledged that such a short timeline may be presumptuous, he hopes hard work and sufficient funding will prove his project successful.
Both NASA and SpaceX are major forces in the realm of modern space exploration. With their efforts, among those of other enterprises, the journey to Mars will soon be possible. “NASA is closer to sending American astronauts to Mars than at any point in our history,” claimed NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a recent statement. With developments in technology and a thirst for universal knowledge, both the government and corporations (such as SpaceX) are excited by the possibility of humans reaching Mars. The colonization of the planet is an abstract idea, but could occur with due time. The arrival of living persons on Mars would be a massive leap forward for science and the whole of the human race. Our eventual visit to the red planet is now inevitable, leaving the world to question only when such a feat will be possible.