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NASA plans Mars Colony by 2035


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Not to be confused with the Mars One project conducted by another agency, already mentioned in another thread:

Sky and Telescope

NASA’s Plans for Sending Humans to Mars
By: Camille M. Carlisle | December 21, 2015

Pack the toothpaste, kids, we’re going to Mars.

. . . and the mining equipment, the spacesuits, and the fertilizer, not to mention the two decades of research and development it’ll take to get us there.

But NASA and a whole lot of other dreamers (who have labs and PhDs to back them up) are determined that, as Yoda would put it, get there we will.

To start the ball rolling, dozens of scientists and engineers met this fall to hash out what they’ll need in order to successfully establish a human presence on Mars. This endeavor isn’t like the rover missions, where we pick an interesting site, plop down a robot, and roll from one curiosity to the next. Instead, workshop attendees were evaluating what NASA organizers called the exploration zone concept — in essence, a field station.

As presented at the workshop, here’s a rough cut of what a crewed mission to the Martian surface would look like: a four-person crew would set up shop in an exploration zone roughly 100 km (60 miles) in radius. In that zone would be various things of scientific interest. The astronauts would also have a habitat, resource mining equipment, and a couple of pressurized rovers, able to go on adventures lasting maybe 10 to 15 sols (Martian days). Due to how the orbital mechanics work out, the crew would spend 300 to 500 days on the planet. Between two and five crews — and, due to the investment involved, probably the higher end of that range — would, one after the other, use the same exploration zone as home base, building up its infrastructure over time.