February 15, 2008

Manned Mission to Mars May Take Global Effort

President George W. Bush wants NASA to put a man on Mars. Putting humans on Mars is a lofty goal, and without a major increase in financial backing, it is improbable that it will occur before the 2030s.

In order to not fall short of this goal, Scott Hubbard, the former director of NASA Ames Research Center and of the Mars Program, says that he is pleading with the next administration to revisit the requirements to see if international collaboration is a possibility.

Hubbard, who is now a professor at Stanford University also states that the requirements set before NASA were that the U.S. would basically pave the way to Mars, getting everything properly in its place and doing all the work with the possibility that other exploring countries would just piggy-back off the work and finances provided by the United States.

He wants the next administration to explore the possibilities of getting financial backing or collaborating with other nations so that the entire price tag of Mars' exploration will not be "on the back of the U.S.".

The proposed mission to Mars, because of its orbit, would either involve a year and a half mission with a week-long stay on Mars, or a three year mission with around a year on the planet. NASA's scientists have calculated that three billion additional dollars would be needed yearly to complete this mission, despite the already large current budget of 17.3 billion.

A conference was recently held at Stanford University, involving Hubbard and others, to discuss how to achieve the goal of a manned mission to Mars. Their ideas about involving other countries came after receiving a phone call from French President Nicolas Sarkozy earlier this week.

Sarkozy proposed a program to further Mars' exploration which would unite European states with the two current space-power-holders, the U.S. and Russia.


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