NASA plans to accelerate its timeline with two aims in sight: to land on the moon and the Red Planet. According to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, the space agency plans to send astronauts on Mars by 2033.
The agency could make some changes to move the moon landing to 2024, a step which offers the chance to study how current technology can perform in space. After the lunar mission is completed successfully, the researchers will have more time to work on Mars-related projects.
The Mars mission requires a new budget
It is not clear if NASA will be able to follow the accelerated timeline without issues. The lunar mission depends on a new rocket which is currently in development and Boeing has announced several delays in the past. The rocket, called Space Launch System, has cost at least $12 billion. The original timeline mentioned a December 2017 delivery for the rocket, but the target wasn’t achieved. NASA has to push all of its partners if it wants to move faster.
There are also some political issues to solve. Some voices are already calling-out the Trump administration, which demands the accelerated timeline but has decided to reduce the budget of the R&D departments of NASA, which is essential for the progress of the initiative.
NASA to fly humans to Mars by 2033
Bridenstine has acknowledged that the new goals are quite impressive and they would mark significant milestones for the agency, but he will not sacrifice other parts of NASA to complete an arbitrary deadline. He also added that a budget request was submitted to the Congress, but the new targets will need an updated petition, which will be presented in the following weeks.
Trump has been an ardent advocate of space exploration. The Space Policy Directive 1, which was signed in December 2017, mentions that NASA should send crewed missions to the moon and other planets. While a journey to the moon would take several days the astronauts headed to Mars will travel for at least six months.