While NASA is planning how to send astronauts around the moon in the Orion capsule, Lockheed Martin, Orion spacecraft's lead contractor, is trying to promote its concept of sending crews on a three-year trip to the Red Planet in the next decade.

If Lockheed Martin's plans bear fruition, then it could be establishing a base camp in Mars by 2028.

Mars Base Camp

Tony Antonelli, a former NASA pilot and head of the advance civil space program at Lockheed Martin, said that the plan for establishing a base camp on Mars "is all doable in the next 10 to 12 years."

The mission would involve a three-year trip to Mars undertaken by a team of six astronauts, and according to Antonelli, it would be viable only with the continued support from the government and industries as well as foreign aid.

In terms of technology, it is believed that Lockheed's mission to Mars will require scientific equipment along with robotic vehicles that are yet to be developed and tested.

During this mission, the astronauts will be able to perform a variety of research with the help of remotely controlled drones and other robots. The research could then pave the way for determining future landing locations of manned missions to the planet.

Colonizing Mars

On the other hand, Phil Metzger, the planetary scientist of NASA, is scheduling its highly ambitious plan of colonizing Mars.

During the New Space Age Conference at Massachusetts, Metzger claimed that such a mission will require the best life-support systems, advanced rocket propulsions and high-speed communications. Many of these technologies have not been developed yet, which poses a problem.

Scientists claimed that chances of humans surviving on Mars will depend on low-tech solutions, simple materials and a practical set of analytical skills that will allow them to adapt effectively.

Adding to this information, Keegan Kirkpatrick, founder of RedWorks, also said that in order to colonize Mars, the crew based on the Red Planet will need to operate independently from Earth. This means that no resupply ships would perhaps be sent from Earth.

Currently, scientists are trying to figure out ways in which materials found in Mars can be used to sustain life on the planet for humans sans the need of sending supplies from Earth, which is not viable in the long run.

Scientists are also looking for ways to extract oxygen and water from the atmosphere of the Red Planet as they feel that it would be easier and more efficient.

"People can understand the situation and adapt as needed, and they also have the ability, that when failures occur, to use resources that were not originally anticipated in order to solve the problem," said Mark Jernigan of NASA.

Only time will tell whether both of these high-risk missions will come to fruition or not. However, for now, both Lockheed Martin and NASA seem to be absolutely focused on achieving their goals.

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