Pat Rawlings/SAIC for NASA

Question: When Do You Think Humans Will Set Foot on Mars?

Article written: 11 Sep , 2011
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

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Last time we wanted to hear your opinions on when humans will return to the Moon. Now I’d like to engage Universe Today readers in another opinionated debate.

When do you think humans will set foot on Mars for the first time? Will it be a specific country or an international team effort? Or do you think it’ll never happen?

I’d love to hear what you think. Just post your thoughts and ideas into the comments below.


98 Responses

  1. Alex Echeverria says

    I have the feeling that it is impractical to send humans to mars, robots will be in charge and we will never set foot there as disastrous events on our planet will keep us very busy. Thanks.

  2. Putting human beings on Mars is probably much further away than many of us would like. My educated guess would be somewhere beyond sixty to eighty years in the future. It’s not that we won’t have the technology (we practically have that now), but the powers that be just don’t have the motivation or the political support to enact such a massive undertaking.

  3. Carlos Tello says

    I will say no before 2050

  4. Bill Fisk says

    Given our current state of scientific ignorance and the utter incompetents coming along, I vote for a long time.

  5. Member
    Anonymous says

    Not for at least 100 years.

  6. Rangel Ebert says

    I dont get it, many comments talking about very long time… we need to remeber that right now the private companies like SpaceX are entering the game, SpaceX recently said they want to put the first human on Mars before 2030, of course it’s just their will, we need to wait to see. And NASA want to do it in mid-2030s , i just think it will happen by 2030s, in fact, we would do it soon as 2018 if we had political motivations… but this isnt the case, so i vote for 2030s.

  7. I think around 2050, and the first people to set foot on the surface of Mars will be a few mega-rich tourists. Think of people like Gates, Turner, Zuckerburg and some wealthy foreign prince (from Saudi?) each shelling out a few billion dollars for the trip, and one paying triple the going rate to step put of the lander first. I see this as more plausible than ESA/NASA/JAXA getting together to do it with tax dollars.

  8. Karlous says

    We don’t even have the propulsion system to put us on Mars, and that’s the easy part! The biological issues are immense, pushed to the extreme by solar storms! Don’t think we will ever set foot on Mars, as human extinction will visit us first!!

    • Anonymous says

      Extinction firts? Don’t you think that this is a bit extreme? We will get there, but not in the very near future. We still have a lot of logistical issues to work out first.

      • Rob says

        Perhaps extinction is extreme. The human race is tenacious and it will likely continue to be represented in the margins despite whatever nature might have in store for us. But if we do not focus on the immediate threats to our environment, there will be a readjustment. It seems quite plausible that civiliaztion could be set back to the point where any kind of space travel is out of the question before we’re ever able to conduct a viable Mars mission. This will give the planet a chance to recover, and in a few thousand years we can visit the question again. Of course, maybe we can think of ways to get to Mars in a horse-drawn carriage, or … a sailboat, or something technologically equivalent. Sorry, but I do worry about these things. I hope our kids and their kids will still be pursuing the planet Mars. But I’m afraid they might be too busy pursuing their next meal. I am not confident we get there before some really bad stuff starts happening here on planet Earth.

  9. Hi,I am Enes.I think we must set foot on Mars as we did 42 years ago with Apollo Missions.In my person it will be an international effort rather than specific country.NASA will become dominant of course, but Russian Space Agency,Japanese Space Agency,ESA and other space agencies will also participate in this project.In my opinion it will take place going to the Moon nearly in 2020’s.We will go to the Moon in order to reach Mars.We need to examine robotics equipments, vehicles,psychological and physical effect on astronauts because going to the Mars requires pretty long time compared to going to the Moon.We must settle a permanent base on Moon and then settle on Mars!Thank you.

  10. OldRed Ned says

    You ask three questions. When will humans set foot on Mars for the first time? I see no reason why the basic methodology used in moon-landings should not be adapted for Mars-landings. A mother-ship in a parked orbit and a Mars-lander taking one or two occupants to the surface of Mars, and back. The adaptation will be primarily in engine power needed to counteract the increased Mars gravity. Target date? About 2019

    Will it be a specific country or an international team effort? This is more difficult to predict. We are entering a fundamental shift of world power. The USA is in decline and the former Soviet Union is decimated. Russia is not the same as the old USSR. China, with perhaps co-operation with India, may well make the first attempt. Unfortunately it is likely to be driven by urgent national prestige rather than in depth safety considerations. If it succeeds, it will be a spectacular achievement.

    Do you think it’ll never happen? No.

  11. Anonymous says

    It is impossible to say. Maybe fairly soon some program will put astronauts on Mars in some shoestring basis and actually succeed. On the other hand, something like that could fail as well. The Chinese have a Salyut style space station they intend to loft, and maybe in 10-20 years they connect a version of this to a sufficient number of rocket boosters and send it to Mars. They may include some form of landing craft. The space-X idea is pretty bare-bones as well. Of course something like that could also easily fail. A more complete system with robust propulsion other than chemical rockets will take longer. On the other hand there is a chance it will not happen at all.

    LC

  12. skytwin says

    We’ve been on the moon secretly for years. What makes you think we that there aren’t
    many covert plans already in effect. How is that we just keep spending for black ops and
    getting nothing in return?? Puleez When we go…group effort…only the rich.

  13. James says

    The problem with getting to mars is not technical, though there are hurdles which must be overcome. The problem is political. The Democrats won’t support the space program because they want the money to go to social programs. And the Republicans have constituencies they must satisfy that are anti-science. We will never go to Mars because the people in power are not interested in going to Mars, add to that the fact the power structure changes every 4 to 8 years, and any manned mars journey is doomed until a way can be found to get the program built and implemented in that time frame, and the people as a whole decide they want to go there.

    My guess is China will get there first, and only if they perceive doing so will embarrass the USA.

  14. James says

    The problem with getting to mars is not technical, though there are hurdles which must be overcome. The problem is political. The Democrats won’t support the space program because they want the money to go to social programs. And the Republicans have constituencies they must satisfy that are anti-science. We will never go to Mars because the people in power are not interested in going to Mars, add to that the fact the power structure changes every 4 to 8 years, and any manned mars journey is doomed until a way can be found to get the program built and implemented in that time frame, and the people as a whole decide they want to go there.

    My guess is China will get there first, and only if they perceive doing so will embarrass the USA.

  15. James says

    The problem with getting to mars is not technical, though there are hurdles which must be overcome. The problem is political. The Democrats won’t support the space program because they want the money to go to social programs. And the Republicans have constituencies they must satisfy that are anti-science. We will never go to Mars because the people in power are not interested in going to Mars, add to that the fact the power structure changes every 4 to 8 years, and any manned mars journey is doomed until a way can be found to get the program built and implemented in that time frame, and the people as a whole decide they want to go there.

    My guess is China will get there first, and only if they perceive doing so will embarrass the USA.

  16. lunej le says

    02.14.2032., late afternoon CET, obviously …

  17. bdlaacmm says

    I don’t expect to see it happen in my lifetime (and I’m 59 years old). Will it happen someday? Yes! Who will do it? Right now I’d put my money on some Asian country (India, Japan, China), but don’t count the US out. Who knows what the political scene will look like a generation from now. We certainly couldn’t have predicted what it’s like today 30 years ago!

    The biggest problems will not be propulsion or anything “mechanical” like that. They will be biological issues, such as prolonged exposure to the interplanetary radiation environment, without that nice little shield of the Van Allen Belts protecting astronauts in low Earth orbit.

    But I do believe we’ll first return to the Moon, before we proceed to Mars.

  18. Marcel Williams says

    Humans will set foot on the moons of Mars and on the Martian surface once we accept the reality that interplanetary travel will require several meters of mass shielding in order to protect the human brain from the deleterious effects of heavy nuclei.

    That means journeys to Mars will probably required heavily shielding Aldrin Cyclers or heavily shielded spacecraft tugged by titanic light sails that use the free energy of the sun.

  19. Anonymous says

    Not in this century. I don’t believe a minimalist effort will work. The International Space Station seems to require three astronauts working full time just to keep it functional, and it can readily be supported from earth. The reliability of spacecraft systems will need to be substantially improved and verified by considerable testing. The life support issues are predominant for crewed missions and will persist for the entire duration of the visit and trip home. To reduce the serious consequences of the 0-g environment It will probably be necessary to provide artificial gravity by rotating the spacecraft. The psychological problems inherent in living in close confinement for the entire mission should not be underestimated. Although each of these issues can be overcome, I think the resultant vehicle will be much more substantial than that envisioned by the Mars Direct approach. Thus, this will be a costly enterprise, so costly as to be outside the budget constraints of any one nation. It will take a long time before the nations of the earth can rouse themselves to participate in such a grand adventure. Of course, this could change quite dramatically if military spending could be significantly reduced. Good luck with that.

  20. Sam Reid says

    Have none of you heard of the small cabin space they’re putting in the Mars Science Labratory? They will put a small baby into cryogenic freezing and land it on the surface of mars. First human on mars by 2013!

  21. Torbjörn Larsson says

    It is as impossible to predict as the first colonial forays. It is unlikely to never happen.

  22. Kevin McElroy says

    Q: How much do we want it? For prestige or for science? A live human or a dead human? And do we intend them to come back or not? A nation with less scruples could throw bodies at Mars until someone survives the trip, and if we don’t worry about a return trip, then that makes it all the easier. Does anyone have the courage or cojones to make such a trip (where is Bruce Willis or Dennis Quaid when you need them)? I”ll bet somebody or some government in this world does, but that might be the price we have to pay to get there anytime soon. As for a legitimate trip, with return option, it will take many billions of dollars we don’t currently have, much of it just in research, and alot of cooperation, and the technology is still pretty dubious. We might have to try numerous times before we make it there and back. The Glenn scenario is so far the smartest and most realistic theoretical plan. Why go there unless we can make it a regular thing? Therefore, just to get off the ground, we will need a low earth orbit station and shuttles, a Mars orbit station and landers, and a cycling shuttle between them. Of course if we can’t afford that at the moon, then how can we afford it for Mars?

    But if you’re talking about a one-time, suicide mission, we could do that alot sooner, with seat-of-the-pants, low-budget, super-experimental wild shots by SpaceX or China. Just keep someone alive for the trip, and they can radio back from the lander a few times before they run out of supplies and freeze. It IS possible with great luck and daring, and it would break the barrier we all want to break. Is it worth the effort it if not much science can be done in a toxic desert by a suicide mission? Probably not. Is it worth it for the glory and prestige? Probably yes, to someone. I’ll bet you could find some takers somewhere in this world who would go for it. Then it’s just the question of how to launch a behemoth supply ship, orbiter, lander, etc, and surviving a two-year, one-way trip in a small cabin. It is possible, how much do we want it? Right now, it seems like The US will not have this kind of excess money to blow again for a long time. One thing is clear, we dont’ “need” humans on Mars, we just want it. And like the moon, we will find it far too strenuous an effort to keep doing it. So it will probably only be a one or two time deal, so why blow all that money and effort on it? No, human spaceflight is futile. Just spend the money on many better robots. The return investment on robots is far greater than any human effort could produce.

  23. serial_ tech says

    IMHO it will take a 2nd pissing match between two nations puffing their chests out to get the short-sighted, self-serving politicians of both nations to commit to the task. I think conditions (read: tensions) between the U.S. and China are growing enough that perhaps in the next race to the moon the U.S. will put its money where its mouth is to defend its title/territory and I could see that escalating into an all-stakes race to Mars (or Phobos).

    Barring political bravado, I don’t think there’s much interest in sending anyone into space outside of LEO. The risks are high and all it would take is the Chinese loosing one manned mission in space for the U.S. to come back and say remind them that we never lost anyone. Public embarrassment on the international stage is never a strong motivator.

    I can see China saying this or that (their government seems keen on doing that) and making bold claims, but the experience and the engineering is still uniquely American. After all, we’ve got the monopoly on men with interplanetary travel experience. Granted, they’re all reaching the end of their lifespans. But thanks to Astronauts like John Young, who’ve spent their lives continuing to improve and advance the space program, we’re not without their knowledge wells.

    I really hope that one day we can see a Star Trek style reality, not in massive warp-drive spaceships with nifty doors that go PPSSSSHHHTT, but one wherein national divides and a need for currencies and barters comes to a halt. Wherein we come together as one race, the human race, and build our future out into the stars. It will probably take, as it did in Star Trek, a visit from an advanced sentient race to set us on that path, but there’s no harm in hoping 🙂

    As for a realistic timeframe for mars exploration… Maybe by the end of the century. Maybe.

  24. serial_ tech says

    IMHO it will take a 2nd pissing match between two nations puffing their chests out to get the short-sighted, self-serving politicians of both nations to commit to the task. I think conditions (read: tensions) between the U.S. and China are growing enough that perhaps in the next race to the moon the U.S. will put its money where its mouth is to defend its title/territory and I could see that escalating into an all-stakes race to Mars (or Phobos).

    Barring political bravado, I don’t think there’s much interest in sending anyone into space outside of LEO. The risks are high and all it would take is the Chinese loosing one manned mission in space for the U.S. to come back and say remind them that we never lost anyone. Public embarrassment on the international stage is never a strong motivator.

    I can see China saying this or that (their government seems keen on doing that) and making bold claims, but the experience and the engineering is still uniquely American. After all, we’ve got the monopoly on men with interplanetary travel experience. Granted, they’re all reaching the end of their lifespans. But thanks to Astronauts like John Young, who’ve spent their lives continuing to improve and advance the space program, we’re not without their knowledge wells.

    I really hope that one day we can see a Star Trek style reality, not in massive warp-drive spaceships with nifty doors that go PPSSSSHHHTT, but one wherein national divides and a need for currencies and barters comes to a halt. Wherein we come together as one race, the human race, and build our future out into the stars. It will probably take, as it did in Star Trek, a visit from an advanced sentient race to set us on that path, but there’s no harm in hoping 🙂

    As for a realistic timeframe for mars exploration… Maybe by the end of the century. Maybe.

  25. Tim Waelkens says

    Never say never.

    I think it’s technological possible, even now today. We’re missing one thing tough… and that’s money. In the Apollo days worked around 700000 people on that project, that’s a lot of cash.

    Let’s say if we survive as species the next 50-100 years… we will finally go to Mars.

    Maybe?

  26. Sakke Kietäväinen says

    we will be there by end of 2030’s. It’s will be done by co-operation of several space-companies and countries. We allready have some sort of technology to go there. And comin years shows , how long it takes to travel there.

  27. k.baker297 says

    Our technology is better than it was for the Moon mission’s. We have better engines, more computing power and the best thing is, the longer we wait, the better our technology is becoming. The initial can it be done, is this possible phase was resolved with the Apollo missions. There are issues with putting people within a container for an extended period etc, but nothing that could not be overcome. The problem is resources. At this stage we know we can go to the Moon, so the big first step has been made. Dealing with World issues such as hunger seem more pressing than a Mars mission, because what sort of a people would we be, if rather than dealing with such things, we put all our energies into sending off a space craft, but at the same time, we cannot always wait for the world to be a perfect place before do something. We could achieve Mars within the decade if not soon after, maybe 2025 if we wanted. If you could get all the countries in the world to spend “some” of their military funds on a joint space programme, this could well be done. I believe it will have to be a group effort this time, we now have a European Space Agency, Indian, Chinese etc along with NASA. To have all acting independently would be backward, and actually, having them work together might be a better idea. Although, a country with the resources i.e money and man power, technical skills could do it independently, it simply then takes the will to do so.

    It will happen though…

  28. k.baker297 says

    Our technology is better than it was for the Moon mission’s. We have better engines, more computing power and the best thing is, the longer we wait, the better our technology is becoming. The initial can it be done, is this possible phase was resolved with the Apollo missions. There are issues with putting people within a container for an extended period etc, but nothing that could not be overcome. The problem is resources. At this stage we know we can go to the Moon, so the big first step has been made. Dealing with World issues such as hunger seem more pressing than a Mars mission, because what sort of a people would we be, if rather than dealing with such things, we put all our energies into sending off a space craft, but at the same time, we cannot always wait for the world to be a perfect place before do something. We could achieve Mars within the decade if not soon after, maybe 2025 if we wanted. If you could get all the countries in the world to spend “some” of their military funds on a joint space programme, this could well be done. I believe it will have to be a group effort this time, we now have a European Space Agency, Indian, Chinese etc along with NASA. To have all acting independently would be backward, and actually, having them work together might be a better idea. Although, a country with the resources i.e money and man power, technical skills could do it independently, it simply then takes the will to do so.

    It will happen though…

  29. Cameron Buswell says

    Answer: When I’m old enough

  30. Horizon 7J says

    In my opinion a new spacecraft drive will have to be developed before humans get to set foot on Mars. There could be a serendipitous discovery tomorrow!

  31. Horizon 7J says

    In my opinion a new spacecraft drive will have to be developed before humans get to set foot on Mars. There could be a serendipitous discovery tomorrow!

  32. Anonymous says

    I think we could go to Mars on known technology if we wanted to. The ideas of sending ahead ‘lifeboats’ with food and fuel for the return journey were ideas that were considered and rejected for the Apollo program. The radiation shielding is not a problem if you try to scatter most of the radiation through a small angle rather than absorb it entirely – you might trail a thin disk of material and have a small penumbra region down the middle of the living quarters where the crew would go during radiation storms.

    I don’t think we will go in person for a long while. We are not going to bring back gold, slaves, and tobacco from this new world: we shall be sending back information. A robotic explorer has been doing that for the last seven years. As computer technology advances, we could go from transistor devices in the tenths of microns to devices at the atomic scale. We could have a mole of bytes in the memory for a few hundreds of grams. We could have diamond carbon circuits with 10 eV band gap. If we have a satellite that relays data to earth, the communications may be no bigger than a mobile phone, and those are shrinking too. We have miniature drones, and 3D printers that could fabricate new tools on site. The gap between sending a robot and sending a person who has to breathe, eat, go to the toilet, and also come home is going to get wider.

    Suppose we did go to Mars. This is a trip of hundreds of millions of miles, so it is a big leap over going to the moon; but it really is not that much bigger than the leap from an orbit of a few hundred miles to going to the moon. But, what then? Do we go to the outer planets? Do we go to the stars? Can we get the same people back alive? Again, the further we go, the bigger the gap between sending a robot and sending person becomes.

    I don’t see us sending humans to Mars in person until we have a good reason to do this, and I cannot see any reason now, or why there should be a reason in the near future. Nationalism may put people onto Mars. Or space tourism for the insanely rich. Not really worthwhile causes, either of them, but perhaps the only things that would do it in the shorter term.

  33. There are so many obstacles. Propulsion (though Space X is doing some impressive stuff), the dangers of radiation and prolonged weightlessness, supplies for such a long trip, etc. In other words it’s going to take some time. I would guess at least 20 years.

  34. John Acton says

    not until the 2150s at least. A second space station is my guess for the next human presence in space, followed by a test/research colony on the moon. Unless we are going to Mars to leave a permanant presence there, it really is a pointless, expensive and dangerous endeavor best left to robotic missions for now.

  35. Ryan Scott says

    I suspect some great advances in technology will get this going more easily and more cheaply than we currently can surmise, and that within 10-15 years an ambitious nation will at least have the game plan firmly set with getting the mission running, and maybe another 10-15 years after that we will get there. I suspect the US will be the front-runner, but it will be a collective effort overall, with a team of astronauts from several nations taking part. When it comes time to set foot on Martian soil for the first time, all members of the team will step out in unison (off a platform of some sort) so that we can say we did it collectively. The flag that will be planted will either be one created for the mission that represents all the people of Earth, or all involved nations will put their individual flags in place.

    Unless the technology becomes incredibly efficient and cheap, I don’t see a private group (or groups) accomplishing this so soon, but I suspect a private firm may be at the moon and have robots on Mars by then (and may contribute in some way to the public national partnership that will be going).

    If the US or a coalition of nations are in no shape to try, then I can guess that the Chinese may do it by the 2050s. But as a proud Canadian, I’d like to see us get there first, and we will if nobody else bothers to do it by the start of the next century or so. 😉

  36. R. Kevin Hill says

    About a decade after you all decide you want it enough.

  37. Nathan says

    I think we can just send a foot fairly easily. I can get you a foot. On a more serious note. I don’t really see what purpose it would serve. Just to say we went there. There is not much sceintific use in going. A robot can bring samples back or analyse them there and send data back. Once the effort it takes is reduced through better technology there should much more interest.

  38. Ask Mr Zubrin of the “Mars Society”… The technology to set up strong magnetic force fields to avert Solar Storms to syntheticly (mimicking the magnetosphere of earth) to avert the solar radiation in a “maximum” solar storm situation, is an easy technology to set up around a built in shelter within the craft if not possible to shield the entire craft and sensitive components. Perhaps even having it on, with a back up unit, powered by solar or onboard nuclear power (radioisotope thermo electric generator) to avert any constant gackgound radiation levels with auto detector that varies the strength to keep the explorers biologicly safe at all times.. The actual componentry of propulsion etc is not beyond our present state of technology. Infact we are more prepared using technology from all world space agencys than the U.S alone, with Apollo landing on the moon in the 60s-70s. The only thing stopping us from landing man on Mars and or setting up colonies on both the moon and Mars is economics and strong politcal motivation…But with world governments setting up a United Nations Space Agency and pooling resource and technologies with the help from private Enterprise, Mankind could do great wonders in exploration and give the whole population of the planet Earth a feeling of coming together in a great Artisitic Work that overflow onto many area of our lives like the technological spin offs from the Space Race in the early days… We really need to look at diversifying our genetic heritage (All species, plant and animal) and survival on many locations throughout the solar system, to maximise our chances of continued human survival in case of cosmic collision calamity reaching extinction level on Earth..or even other serious cosmic calamity that may strip Earth of its biosphere…Would be nice to think that we have “LIFE Back Up” to at least try to regarden Earth or Mars by having planetary engineering or “Genesis Plan” “Terraforming any feasable location, at the least, where ever we deem possible that we could start again…or even have it well underway for our continued survival! We must set foot on Mars..ASAP!

  39. Anonymous says

    As was my opinion with the next moon landing, I believe the first humans to Mars will be a commercial venture. Democratic governments are too unstable, too many politicians, too many special intrests. If any government can stay focused long enough to pull it off, I’d bet on the Chinese, but I personally find it hard to trust any communist country. On the other hand, the private sector has no such difficulties, once they figure a way to make a profit there is no stoping them. We have the technology to do the job right now, the only problem is the expense. When will we make it to mars? I hope it will be within my life time, (2080 if I live to 100) beyond that for an answer, I couldn’t even guess.

    Where’s James T. Kirk when you need him?

  40. Anonymous says

    As was my opinion with the next moon landing, I believe the first humans to Mars will be a commercial venture. Democratic governments are too unstable, too many politicians, too many special intrests. If any government can stay focused long enough to pull it off, I’d bet on the Chinese, but I personally find it hard to trust any communist country. On the other hand, the private sector has no such difficulties, once they figure a way to make a profit there is no stoping them. We have the technology to do the job right now, the only problem is the expense. When will we make it to mars? I hope it will be within my life time, (2080 if I live to 100) beyond that for an answer, I couldn’t even guess.

    Where’s James T. Kirk when you need him?

  41. Anonymous says

    I believe that the only feasable reason that humans would ever go to Mars would be if we constructed a large/long scale spaceship. Kind of a staging point for larger deep space exploration details. A place that we need not fear destroying the atmosephere from a large scale rocket launch. So not for a very long time, not until the need arises.

  42. Edward Villarreal says

    As soon as the Republicans are out of Congress for a long enough period of time.

  43. Danzio says

    With an advanced ion propulsion, powered by solar and RTG units, the trip would take weeks as opposed to many months. The Mars Direct plan is solid in principle and adds redundancy.
    The other factor to consider is that conservatives don’t typically support pure science activities. They are very focused on the profit motive. So any science that offers the potential for them and their friends to cash in, largely determines their support.
    And this delays large ventures. Especially manned missions.
    . . .
    My guess is 2050. I would be 90; so I will likely not live to see such a wonderous thing.
    . . .
    In the mean time, I am helping in the Kepler mission to find planets.
    We do what we can.

  44. Anonymous says

    A long ways off. We have very little practice sending a craft of that size and with the required resources so far away.

    My guess: ~2060

  45. Frank says

    I hate being a cynic, but our government has made me into one. I don’t think America will ever put a man on mars, America and the world economy will soon deem all space flight as too expensive and no humans will leave the planet. Sooner or later I think they will bring everybody back from the space station. And that will be the end of earth’s manned space travel. And I’m an avid Trekkie that really wishes we were boldly going where no man has gone before !

  46. Frank says

    I hate being a cynic, but our government has made me into one. I don’t think America will ever put a man on mars, America and the world economy will soon deem all space flight as too expensive and no humans will leave the planet. Sooner or later I think they will bring everybody back from the space station. And that will be the end of earth’s space travel. And I’m an avid Trekkie that really wishes we were boldly going where no man has gone before !

  47. Ints Kesans says

    two options
    1. political will to go to the mars will stay focused for considerable amount of time.
    2. private sector will found it to be worth to go there.

    we will be on mars 10 years after we meet either 1 or 2.
    going to the mars is not about technical ability. sure we can.

  48. Garrett D'Amore says

    Seems to me that the main *cost* is mass to orbit (LEO). The additional cost of getting a large amount of mass *out* of LEO and on a Mars trajectory is probably somewhat smaller. (Though I’ve not done the math, so someone feel free to correct me.)

    This implies that either given a space elevator, or inexpensive chemical launches, we could get there quickly. Its just a matter of making the cost to near earth space cheap enough.

    The next question is where would we go, and *why* would we go. I think tourism may get us there. I see more likely a stop on phobos or deimos, as a research station and perhaps a way station before we tackle the problem of mars’ gravity well. (Actually the idea of some one-way pioneers, supported by some long term but still temporary folks from deimos or phobos, seems like it would have merit to me.)

    Long term, I think there are more interesting places to go than mars, but we need to practice and mars (or its moons) are a closer target than some of those other locations. (Such as Jovian moons, etc.)

    I think *one* serious motivation in getting the “practice steps” at places like mars done may be when/if an earth-like planet is discovered at a nearby star. I could see sending people on an interstellar mission like that (perhaps lasting decades or even centuries in transit) something that would have enough “interest” that as a race we might decide its worth investing in the technologies that would eventually get us there.

    All that said, I also think some of the asteroid belts and places like the lagrange points are likely to be more inviting for “space settlements”… and I think the ability to use resources resources already readily available outside of deep gravity wells is likely to to accelerate us down this road.

    I see enhanced robotics (and perhaps nano-tech) as an enabler here — the idea that we could send a swarm of small robots to convert the resources of a small asteroid into a station, or starship hull, or other useful things, seems like it could do a lot to address that whole “mass to orbit” economic problem. 🙂

  49. Anonymous says

    This Mars mania is sickening. Why don’t we think beyond the solar system rather than setting our foot on that DEAD AND DULL planet. There is nothing exciting waiting for us I’m sure.

  50. Anonymous says

    This Mars mania is sickening. Why don’t we think beyond the solar system rather than setting our foot on that DEAD AND DULL planet. There is nothing exciting waiting for us I’m sure.

  51. Sid Nik says

    till 2030 to 2050
    all of the space center will contribute in it…………….
    i wish i can be there on mars…………

  52. zetetic elench says

    headline: Martian rover stumbles upon 2 ton nugget of pure platinum. “It looks like the whole damn mountain is made of the stuff.” Say boffins. “The kicker is, it’s lying on a vast plain of lithium salt.”
    Swarms of general purpose recon and sample/return drones have been dispatched. Ticket are being sold to explore in high bandwidth virtuality.

  53. Stefan Lamoureux says

    I believe that we will go to mars, when our educational system is changed and we start to have astronomy in elementary schools and from there secondary and university (now we only have a higher education for astronomy)
    Children is our future we always say. So with children we have to start.
    A changing in educational programs in schools can take several years, afterwards the children has to grow to be able to work in this domain and after that the projects can start.
    Young child: 6 years in school
    Teenager: 5 years in school
    Adult: 7 years in school
    Adult work: 5 year project
    Total: 23 years of preparation
    So lets give it a 5 years to start the educational advances TODAY
    and a 5 years margin for the rpoject to blast off of Earth.
    Total: 33 years from now
    2012 + 33 = year 2045

    Lets hope someone will stand up and engage in talks to start this way of education in schools all around the globe.

  54. I suspect that in 25 years, you’ll be asking the same question.

  55. Riccardo Nutricato says

    I would say in 2065 even if I hope before, since I would like to experience the event in my lifetime. I guess it would be an international team expedition wich would fit the probable multipolar geopolitical situation of that time. Since I am european I would like it could be an Eurussian expedition (EU+Russia), but I guess it could be North American or Chinese as well. Even if it would be technically feasible before, economic struggle and competition for resources would prevent an objective like Mars human exploration to happen before that date.

  56. Anonymous says

    We could go to Mars in a couple of years if we wanted to spend the money because the technology currently exists. All the problems with propulsion stated in the comments are nonsense. All you need to do is send a flotilla of supply space ships and some way to dock with them, which could easily be done with current technology.

    There are two much more serious issues that need to be overcome with respect to the actual mission and one which involves spending the money. First of all, we need to find a way to shield the astronauts (cosmonauts or taikonaut, depending on their country of origin) from radiation. Second, we need to find a way to keep the astronauts healthy enough and strong enough to be able to walk and function once they reach the planet. The rest is all details that existing technology could handle.

    The third problem is money. There is no way that any country will be able to justify spending the 100’s billions of dollar equivalents to send a crew to Mars at this point in time. Unfortunately, a trip to Mars will not happen in my lifetime and probably not my children’s life time because of the financial constraints. We have much more pressing issues to solve in the meantime, like unemployment, global food crisis, global warming, economic problems, population explotions, deforestation, pollution, etc… Hopefully we will spend some of our collective money solving those problems, instead of wasting it designing the next iPhone or iPad. While I am all for spending money on science and exploration, realistically I don’t think any politician or group of politicians would risk their election by proposing to spend the money required to get to Mars.

  57. Anonymous says

    We could go to Mars in a couple of years if we wanted to spend the money because the technology currently exists. All the problems with propulsion stated in the comments are nonsense. All you need to do is send a flotilla of supply space ships and some way to dock with them, which could easily be done with current technology.

    There are two much more serious issues that need to be overcome with respect to the actual mission and one which involves spending the money. First of all, we need to find a way to shield the astronauts (cosmonauts or taikonaut, depending on their country of origin) from radiation. Second, we need to find a way to keep the astronauts healthy enough and strong enough to be able to walk and function once they reach the planet. The rest is all details that existing technology could handle.

    The third problem is money. There is no way that any country will be able to justify spending the 100’s billions of dollar equivalents to send a crew to Mars at this point in time. Unfortunately, a trip to Mars will not happen in my lifetime and probably not my children’s life time because of the financial constraints. We have much more pressing issues to solve in the meantime, like unemployment, global food crisis, global warming, economic problems, population explotions, deforestation, pollution, etc… Hopefully we will spend some of our collective money solving those problems, instead of wasting it designing the next iPhone or iPad. While I am all for spending money on science and exploration, realistically I don’t think any politician or group of politicians would risk their election by proposing to spend the money required to get to Mars.

  58. Cam Kirmser says

    If we retain President Obama’s policies of turning NASA into an EPA lapdog, then we will never reach Mars.

    We are fast becoming – if we have not already arrived – the Portugal of the Space Age.

  59. Cam Kirmser says

    If we retain President Obama’s policies of turning NASA into an EPA lapdog, then we will never reach Mars.

    We are fast becoming – if we have not already arrived – the Portugal of the Space Age.

  60. Anonymous says

    Humans will never set foot on Mars. All the science we need and want to do (including sample return) can be done robotically.

    By the time humans figure out that perhaps we should be getting out there physically, we will lack the resources to do so.

    Mike.

    PS I didn’t post in the moon landing thread but the above goes for landing on the moon also.

  61. Raimo Hokkanen says

    I am not certain of any space agencies’ timetables on this matter, nor knowledgeable of the smaller agencies’ timetables, but I would say that many would have 2029 as a target year. 60 years after the first moon landing. Somehow it feels fitting.
    We hear talk about mid 30’s being a target time, but I have a feeling about 2029. China and russia seem to be more focused on lunar landings in that timeframe, but NASA is supposed to focus on Mars. Who knows, maybe we get to see the Old Glory waving in the martian winds by then. Or the Golden Arches sprouting from the rusty sand…

  62. edlu says

    First human to walk on Mars – 2055, first Starbucks on Mars – 2056

  63. Anonymous says

    I used to think I’d live long enough to see people on Mars. I’m now 57, and don’t think I’ll make it. One reason is the success of the various Mars rovers. They’ve shown us a toxic, frozen desert, apparently lifeless. Mineralogically not as complex as the Earth, and topographically quite dull, quite depressing to look at for any length of time I fundamentally agree with Bertrand Russell’s statement that “every society needs a non-destructive adventure”; going to Mars wopuld be just that. But as someone else remarked [Maxime Faget?] “the role of man in space is entertainment”.

  64. Tom Gwilym says

    Sadly, I don’t think it will happen for a LONG time. Back in the 60s risks were known, and risks were taken. Astronauts died, but most made it (although one crew barely made it back).
    Today everyone is so terrified of risk, that unless we have another space race with China or Russia I don’t think there is motivation to get things done.

  65. Tom Gwilym says

    Sadly, I don’t think it will happen for a LONG time. Back in the 60s risks were known, and risks were taken. Astronauts died, but most made it (although one crew barely made it back).
    Today everyone is so terrified of risk, that unless we have another space race with China or Russia I don’t think there is motivation to get things done.

  66. Anonymous says

    I used to think I’d see people on Mars in my lifetime. I’m now 57, diabetic, and I doubt I’ll make it.

    Bertrand Russell once said that “every society needs a non-destructive adventure”. Going to Mars would be just that. However, I believe it was Maxime Faget who said that “the role of Man in space is entertainment”. Thanks to the amazing Mars rovers, we now now that Mars is a frozen, toxic desert. Mineralogically much less complex than Earth; topologically very dull [apart from a couple of places], visually depressing, in fact, not very entertaining at all. Apart from a sort of slow and inevitable spread of the human race over centuries [because that’s what we do], I fear we need a lost city, a Martian spider or some other marvel to justify risking human life.

    Oh, dear…

  67. Anonymous says

    I used to think I’d see people on Mars in my lifetime. I’m now 57, diabetic, and I doubt I’ll make it.

    Bertrand Russell once said that “every society needs a non-destructive adventure”. Going to Mars would be just that. However, I believe it was Maxime Faget who said that “the role of Man in space is entertainment”. Thanks to the amazing Mars rovers, we now now that Mars is a frozen, toxic desert. Mineralogically much less complex than Earth; topologically very dull [apart from a couple of places], visually depressing, in fact, not very entertaining at all. Apart from a sort of slow and inevitable spread of the human race over centuries [because that’s what we do], I fear we need a lost city, a Martian spider or some other marvel to justify risking human life.

    Oh, dear…

  68. Anonymous says

    The USA alone, or in combination with Russia, Western Europe, Japan, Canada and Australia, will not send astronauts to Mars in this century. The costs are too steep for economies that are losing acceleration, and concerns over personnel safety, as opposed to the 1960s with a similar effort to the Moon, are too high. Western world countries, even with Russia and Japan added, would balk at the price tag, or at trying to justify it to their citizens. Plus, we have become much more risk-averse about the possibility of failure and loss of life. For the same reasons I am confident China, possibly with the assistance of India, can accomplish a human landing on Mars and a safe return to Earth in the next 15 to 25 years. Surely they are already doing preliminary planning. We should embrace what is becoming obvious, help them, and maybe the west will get a seat or two on a ride into history.

  69. Anonymous says

    There is a big recent book in Russian: Cosmonautics of XXI century, written by the top experts of Roscosmos. They say: it’s difficult to predict anything beyond 2040 but somewhat reasonable date for the first manned Mars expedition is 2060s. And there are doubts about its success.

  70. Anonymous says

    By the time we figure out the logistics on getting a human to mars the human will have become obsolete to the robots that will be able to attain all the goals that are relevant to the Human Race when it comes to a barren planet. It would be a huge waste of time and money to simply say look what we did! People talked also a long time ago about a Base on the Moon.
    No Real purpose.
    Finally if I had to guess – about 65 years 3 months and 14 days from today.

  71. Jamie Rich says

    If our species does set foot on Mars, then it will be an International collaboration, much in the same vein as the ISS. Unless China prompts a new Cold War, and they beat us all to it first.

  72. Santo says

    Maybe in 2035. ‘Pleased to meet you’. you say, and the litle green man will say: Please to meet you too, where are you from? WE ARE FROM EARTH.

  73. kkt says

    Any advanced nation could do it for about $20 billion a year sustained for 20 years.
    The next question is which nation would spend that much money and sustain it over a couple of decades of political changes? Democracies don’t have that much attention span.

  74. James Walczak says

    The truth of the matter is that we could do it with the tech that’s available today -if-, as others have suggested, there was motivation to do it. The first hurtle if of course government bureaucracy. Sorry friends but ya can’t blame this on Obama as it seems to be a global problem…no one else seems to be reaching for it either. If we have to rely on the governments of this planet for space exploration, then we’re only going to see the limited success that we have so far and governments will always find a reason to not get us there. That said, this leaves this great endevour to the private and commercial sectors, which leads us to our second hurtle; money.

    Again the problem ain’t the tech…rockets, bio domes, space habitation…been there, done that. The problem is getting someone to -pay for it-. For that to happen, for better or worse, there needs to be some profit in it for someone. “Fame and glory” is all nice and wonderful, but it don’t pay the bills…and this stuff’s REALLY expensive. Unfortunately this is kind of a catch 22…in order to make it profitable, we need to get there but in order to get there, we need to make it profitable.

    So I would say that should really be the first thing we need to address. The cost of the new MSL project (the Curiosity rover) is what? 2.3 billion dollars??? Yikes, I say…YIKES!!! We really need to start thinking “outside the box” on this people. We need to find ways to do this that are actually AFFORDABLE! We need to re-think this whole idea from the ground up…literally. Think of it like “primitive camping”…if you head out into the deep woods, you don’t REALLY need to bring a massive $100,000 RV and all the comforts of home with you (let alone another billion dollars worth of scientific gear!). All you really need is a knife, a tent, a blanket and something to start a fire with, etc…we need to apply this same mentality. How do we get out of the Earth’s atmosphere for cheap, then how do we get to Mars for cheap, then how do we get back FOR CHEAP. Seems to me that there’s been a bit of progress made with solar sails in recent years. Even that whole balloon launch thing could use some investigation. Instead of making it a matter of seeing just how MUCH money we can spend to do these things, then getting angry when our governments won’t foot the bill, maybe we need to make a fresh start at it and simply do it on our own.

    Once we can find a way to do this, then we can look at ways of making this “profitable”. Get the folks at Verizon and AT&T to foot the bill for a new Mars orbital communication satellite and so on. As Zetetic suggested, maybe there’s some natural resources on Mars that would help with the profitable issue as well…after all, we still don’t really know what’s up there.

    So to answer the question, I would like to see it happen by 2020 and I think it’s -possible-…but I’m not really convinced it’s likely. Assuming we don’t destroy ourselves and our planet (which I still think is a HUGE assumption), unfortunately I think that the way things are today, 2040 – 2050 is probably more realistic…I just hope someone proves me wrong.

  75. Anonymous says

    Unless there’s a very commercially viable or pressing reason (i.e. survival of the species) to do so, I don’t expect to see that before 2050+.

  76. Anonymous says

    Unless there’s a very commercially viable or pressing reason (i.e. survival of the species) to do so, I don’t expect to see that before 2050+.

  77. Anonymous says

    Unmanned missions can generate far more term papers and theses per dollar spent. A manned mission to Mars will occur in the distant future, but it won’t be political or scientific – it will be a sporting event.

  78. Humans will soon set foot on Mars.

  79. adamn rat says

    The Chinese will land on the moon, put a ring of Chinese flags around the American flag, and go off with India to Explore Mars, America will have a meeting about it.
    Sorry America, you are letting it slip, and the dreams of the rest of the world with it. You want to be world leaders? Lead.

  80. Helzundi says

    As soon as Ozzie and Nigel iron the bugs out of their wormhole technology, of course.
    Oh, what’s that, in the real world now?
    Dang, those Peter F Hamilton books are engrossing!

  81. Helzundi says

    Seriously though, I’m not sure we will see Humans on Mars for a very long time.
    Sci-Fi is good to read, but the exorbitant cost of mounting a manned mission is a huge obstacle.
    I think we will see more and more advanced, and even possibly semi-autonomous robotics leading the way, and even (again possibly) establishing a habitable shelter for Humans to use when (and if) we get there.
    The possibility of a government led mission (either manned or robotic) is looking more and more improbable, with the world’s national finances going to Hell in a hand cart.
    The most likely scenario (in my humble. uninformed opinion) is a corporate mission, launched by one of the big multi-nationals.
    We live in hope.

    Helz

  82. Anonymous says

    It is less likely that the US will send a manned mission to Mars on its own. If the US goes it will be a joint mission with several countries. I suspect we will not be the primary funding country. When? Not before 2050 due to the world economy. China could no doubt fund a mission now but they are more concerned with getting military parity with the US. When That occurs China and the US may partner for a mars mission.

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