In December 2017, US President Donald Trumpsigned a directive according to which NASA's aerospace agency should prepare a program for the return of American astronauts to the moon and "consider the prospects of manned missions to Mars and other planets in the solar system." Before the agency set clear dates: in 2024, a man must land on the moon, in 2033 - on Mars. However, industry experts believe that the mission to Mars will be much more difficult than the entire Apollo program of the 1960s, so the year 2033 is too unrealistic.
"The moon will be a testing ground for testing our ability to go to Mars," said NASA head Jim Brydenstein last week during the annual Human to Mars event.
“The moon is our opportunity to reach the Red Planet as quickly and safely as possible. That is why we will first fly to the moon. ”
However, according to Robert Howard,The laboratory, which develops future space dwellings at the Lyndon Johnson Space Center, the question of sending a man to Mars is not so much technical and scientific difficulties, as with the budget and political will.
"Many people would like us to repeat the moment"Apollo". And many would like our president to become, and as Kennedy once said, that we must rally around this goal and fulfill it, ”Howard commented.
“The mission to Mars is, in principle, feasible by 2027, but this is unlikely. I think that with our current approach we will be lucky if we can go there at least by 2037 ”.
Howard's pessimistic forecast was shared by others.experts who participated in the event on the analysis of the development of deep space. Some even declared that we should not dream of Mars until 2060.
From the development, production and testing of missilesand spacecraft to the knowledge of how best to grow lettuce in space - all this knowledge will be useful in the implementation of such an ambitious mission. Think for yourself. To Mars in one direction to fly the whole six months. This is not a three day relaxed journey to the moon. The whole mission to the Red Planet can take two years, since Mars and Earth come closer to each other to the maximum distance only once in 26 months. And this window should be considered.
The key problem that scientists have to solvebefore sending a man to Mars - protecting astronauts from space radiation and solar radiation, said Julie Robertson, head of NASA's scientific mission for the International Space Station.
“The second problem is food. Current systems for growing fresh produce are not very convenient, are not very portable, and are not very suitable for taking them with you to Mars, ”the expert added.
In addition, there are a number of issues related tomaintaining the health of astronauts during the flight to the Red Planet, during their work on its surface, as well as during the return of people back to Earth. We must learn to perform complex surgeries and solve other medical problems in the event of any unexpected situation.
“I think that one of the problems to be solved is related to spacesuits,” adds Jennifer Heldman, a NASA planetary scientist.
One of the most unfortunate elements of spacesuitsmissions "Apollo" were their gloves. They greatly swelled, hampering the movement of astronauts at work. Experts note that for the first time in 40 years, NASA has been developing a new spacesuit, but it will take several more years to finalize and first use it on board the International Space Station.
On Mars, fine dust particles will become even morea serious problem than were on the moon. The astronauts of the Apollo mission on return to Earth brought a large amount of dust in manned modules. In turn, maintaining sterility of Martian dwellings is a critical aspect, especially for missions, in which people will have to live on the Red Planet for several months.
Technologies required for the extraction of usefulFossils on Mars (water, fuel, and oxygen) that are necessary for human survival do not yet exist. They are being developed, but their first real tests can begin, at best, only towards the end of the next decade, when the first manned expeditions will fly to the Moon.
In addition, we need to solve the mostfundamental question: how to keep the mind of people who will have to experience severe psychological stress for two years while the mission lasts? To respond to the problems in real time will not work. Radio messages between Earth and Mars in one direction can go from 4 to 24 minutes. NASA is going to organize with the participation of the ISS exercises with delayed communication, but, again, this will happen no earlier than in a few years.
Experts believe that to master MarsIt will require the development and use of specialized artificial intelligence that will assist astronauts in life and work on the Red Planet. For all these reasons, the task of sending a man to Mars by 2033 seems to be extremely unlikely.
“It's not just about the budget. It is also about organizational issues and how quickly NASA can cope with a number of technical problems at the same time, ”comments Bhavya Lal from the Institute of General Scientific and Technological Problems.
The more realistic period of the first manned missions to Mars Lal is considered in 2039.
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