Technology

When NASA will send people to the moon and mars, and how much will it cost

Independent analysis of the NASA space programindicates that the US aerospace agency will not be able to send humans to Mars by 2033. According to the most optimistic estimates, this can happen not earlier than the end of the 2030s, reports the portal SpaceNews, with reference to the corresponding document. Despite the fact that the report itself was prepared before official statements by the US Administration at the end of March this year that the country should land a man on the moon by 2024, the document offers a fresh look at the cost of the new lunar program of the USA, as well as the prospect of the subsequent of this human exploration of the red planet.

To prepare a third-party look at yourNASA program, at the request of the US Congress, announced in 2017, turned to the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI). The document was drawn up taking into account the assessment of the technological capabilities of the agency and the cost of a long-term program, the purpose of which is to send American astronauts to Mars in 2033.

The object of the analysis was a new report.Aerospace Agency under the heading “Research Company”, which describes the prospects for the development and operation of the new launch vehicle Space Launch System (SLS), the new manned spacecraft Orion (will work in conjunction with the SLS), and also assesses the development of the construction program near-moon station Gateway in the 2020s. In addition, it also addresses the development of a manned spacecraft Deep Space Transport (DST), specifically designed for flights in deep space, including Mars. The new NASA program also includes the development of several lunar landing modules and lunar rovers. In addition, the agency also needs to develop new life support systems for astronauts for life in the near-moon space and lunar environment, as well as similar systems for subsequent manned flights to Mars.

According to STPI experts, all this work will take a very long time for the agency to be in time for the originally announced deadlines of the first Martian manned mission in 2033.

“We conclude that even in the absence ofbudget constraints to prepare an orbital mission to Mars by 2033, as stated in the current national plans, as well as the plans of the NASA agency itself, is impossible. Our analysis shows that the orbital mission to Mars will be possible no earlier than 2037, taking into account the readiness for this time of technologies that are not available now, given the absence of delays in the preparation of the program, and also taking into account the lack of funding problems and compliance with the allocated budget. on this program, ”the document says.

The report focuses ontechnological risks questioning the agency’s ability to be prepared for the Martian manned mission by 2033. In particular, it talks about the difficulties of developing a reusable Deep Space Transport spacecraft, the necessary technologies of propulsion systems, as well as life support systems, the creation and testing of which will require a very large amount of time. To reach the mission scheduled for 2033, the agency needs to develop and test all critical technologies by 2022, which is unlikely, the report says. If the development of the program will be carried out without taking into account these critical technologies, then the development of Deep Space Transport itself may cause problems already during the design phase, which in turn will lead to delays in the implementation of the program.

In addition, the report indicates that the financialEvaluation of the development of Deep Space Transport should begin as early as 2020, which is also unlikely, since DST does not even exist in technical documentation. The report explains that an attempt to speed up the work schedule, which would be inconsistent with the existing standards for preparing NASA space missions, “will lead to high technological and financial risks” of the future program.

Thus, the report notes, “mannedthe mission to Mars in 2033 from a technological point of view and taking into account the schedule of its preparation is simply impossible. " The next starting window will be open in 2035, but the report indicates that NASA will not be able to prepare everything necessary for this mission by this time, therefore the earliest date is the starting window, which will open in 2037.

STPI specialists also considered an approximatethe cost of the first Martian mission, scheduled for 2037. Thus, the total cost of developing and preparing all the critical elements of the program, including the SLS launch vehicle, the Orion spacecraft, the creation of the Gateway orbital station, the DST spacecraft, and other necessary infrastructure, will cost the country about $ 120.6 billion by 2037. . At the same time, it is noted that only 33.7 billion dollars have already been spent on one SLS and Orion development, as well as the corresponding infrastructure for their future operation.

The document states that the cost of developmentDST ship will be about 29.2 billion dollars. However, it should be borne in mind that these figures are very approximate because no one has yet seen the finished design documentation of the device. Therefore, STPI carried out calculations taking into account the cost of developing the Orion spacecraft. Interestingly, the total cost of the Gateway space station is estimated by experts “only” at $ 6 billion. STPI analysts explain this by saying that the NASA partners will be involved in developing and sending part of the modules for the new near-moon station — the project will be international. Therefore, their cost in the total budget of the American Agency was not included.

The cost of lunar landings

The mission to Mars is only part of the overall newNASA’s manned space research program, which analysts estimate will cost the US about $ 217.4 billion by 2037. This money is going to be spent not only on flights to Mars, but also on projects in near-earth orbit, as well as on developing elements of the Martian infrastructure that will be needed in future missions of the US agency.

Also included in the budget is a series of missionslanding on the lunar surface. The report predicts that the first landing of a man on the moon will take place in 2028 - it was on that date that NASA itself had calculated before the statements of the new US Administration, which set the agency the task of returning American astronauts to the Earth satellite as early as 2024. Then the agency hoped to carry out one manned mission to the moon until 2032.

The document assesses the three-step systemwhich NASA is going to use for manned flights to the moon. Her agency agency presented last year. Then it was about the use of systems with reusable first stage, spacecraft and consumable steps for landing on the surface of the moon. With this in mind, the document indicates that the landing modules and refueling system will cost the agency $ 8 billion. Such costs will allow a series of several pilot unmanned missions, as well as five manned landings to the satellite. An additional $ 12 billion will have to be spent on launching the SLS, Orion spacecraft, as well as other missions to deliver landing modules, fuel, and other cargo to the satellite. It is indicated that the announced figures do not include the cost of the development of the SLS, Orion itself and the Gateway station.

In addition, STPI experts reportaccording to their estimates, the cost of the first landing on the moon will cost NASA about 2.44 billion dollars. This money will go to both the launch itself and the development of the necessary equipment for it. A few more billions will be needed to build landing modules.

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