NASA has revealed their 4-step space plan for the next 15+ years, expressing their intentions to complete Mars missions by the 2030’s.
Phase 0 seeks to “solve exploration mission challenges through research and systems testing on the ISS.” During this phase, which is set over the next few years, NASA also plans to “understand if and when lunar resources are available.”
During Phase 1, which is set in the 2020’s and will operate in “the Lunar Vicinity,” NASA intends to “conduct missions in cislunar space,” and “assemble Deep Space Gateway and Deep Space Transport,” while Phase 2, which is set in the late 2020’s, will “complete Deep Space Transport and conduct Mars verification mission.”
Phases 3 and 4, which will be the last steps of the plan, end in “leaving the Earth-Moon system and reaching Mars Orbit.” Manned missions to Mars will be the ultimate goal during these phases.
“As NASA’s Greg Williams explained this week at the Humans to Mars Summit in Washington DC, the Moon mission is on the slate for 2027 and could see a crew spending a year sailing above the lunar surface,” reported Science Alert on Friday. “That extended stay in space would be preceded by at least five missions, some manned and some unmanned, to lug bits of equipment towards the Moon. That kit would include a habitat for crew members as well as the Deep Space Transport spacecraft that NASA has in the works to take people all the way to Mars.”
NASA’s Greg Williams further claimed in a comment that a year-long mission in cislunar space would be one of the most effective preparations for a Mars mission.
“If we could conduct a year-long crewed mission on this Deep Space Transport in cislunar space, we believe we will know enough that we could then send this thing, crewed, on a 1,000-day mission to the Mars system and back,” said Williams. “We’re trying to lead this journey to Mars with a broad range of partnerships… One of the things we’ll be doing over the next few years is putting that package together.”
President Trump’s Mars ambitions were revealed in March when he signed a bill securing funding for NASA.
“Bill S.442, named the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017, was co-sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), provides NASA with $19.5 billion worth of funding for the 2018 fiscal year, with the aim of sending a ‘crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s.'” wrote Breitbart News reporter Ben Kew in March. “The bill also urges NASA to ‘extend human presence, including potential human habitation on another celestial body and a thriving space economy in the 21st Century.'”