Can the just-flown Orion spacecraft truly get us to Mars? NASA has been portraying the mission as part of the roadmap to the Red Planet, but there are observers who say a human landing mission is an unrealistic goal given the budget just isn’t there right now in Congress.
That doesn’t stop Boeing from dreaming, though. In this new video, the prime contractor for the future Space Launch System rocket suggests that going to Mars will take six spacecraft elements. Two are in the works right now — Orion and SLS — while a Mars lander and other bits are just ideas right now, but shown in the video.
According to Boeing, the missing elements include a deep-space tug, a habitat, a lander and a rocket designed to get up out of the Mars gravity well. They also suggest it will take several SLS launches to assemble all the pieces to bring humans to the Red Planet.
“I think we’ll be able to colonize Mars someday,” said Mike Raftery, director of Boeing Space Exploration Systems, in the video. “It’ll take time. It may take hundreds of years. But that’s not unusual for humans. It’s really about establishing a human foothold on the planet. It’s a natural evolution of humanity to take this challenge on.”
That said, the video does hold to the old joke that a Mars landing is always 20 years in the future; the opening sequence suggests that the landing would take place in the 2030s and that those first astronauts are between the ages of 10 to 20 right now. What will it take to make the Mars mission possible? Let us know in the comments.
Edit, 3:39 p.m. EST: Thank you to a reader on Twitter, who pointed out this presentation by Boeing that explains the concepts in more detail.