Will we ever get to Mars?

Posted by Michael Pinto on Oct 8, 2007 in Science |

Mars Mission

Recently the head of NASA predicted that China would beat the United States back to the moon. To me this is depressing as the issue isn’t re-creating technology from the late 60’s but is about funding the space program. So this well done BBC article caught my eye as it shows how Wernher von Braun’s plan for going to Mars was shot down:

Will we ever send humans to Mars?

“In the summer of 1969, two weeks after Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon, rocket scientist Wernher von Braun delivered to Nasa a detailed, fully costed plan for landing humans on Mars. Dr von Braun, who had masterminded America’s lunar programme, intended to send astronauts on an initial excursion to the Red Planet lasting two years, with a fly-by of Venus on the journey home.

The mission was to reach Mars by 1982 and would be accomplished using a nuclear-powered rocket. This would be parked in Earth orbit and used to ferry 800-tonne spaceships to Mars and back. The annual cost, von Braun estimated, would peak at $7bn in 1974, running at $6bn thereafter. But by the end of the 1960s, politicians and the media had had their fill of space; the timing was also wrong economically. As a result, the proposal fell on deaf ears.”

…with all this talk of Sputnik I’d like to see a new space race for the 21st century. Why don’t we work with Russia, China, India and Europe to return to the moon? It would save taxpayers money, inspire people across the globe, and maybe just improve international relations. That system of working together could then be used as a preamble to a Mars project.

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