The U.S. Congress passed a bill in March urging the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to send humans to Mars by 2033. Even U.S. President Donald Trump is eager to make it happen so he moved up NASA's deadline to 2024 and refocused much of the space agency's budget for a crewed Mars mission.
Despite overwhelming government support, however, NASA does not seem to share the enthusiasm, especially since there are too many technological factors to consider before sending humans to the Red Planet.
Elon Musk and SpaceX, on the other hand, have reshaped the way humans send rockets to space and they are on board with the plan to colonize Mars as soon as possible.
Private Mars Missions
Musk has been vocal about his intent to transport humans to Mars, even if astronaut Buzz Aldrin believes the entrepreneur's ideas are a bit problematic since it is mostly focused on delivery instead of living conditions and habitability, but that does not lessen Musk's probability of success.
After all, SpaceX has already successfully test fired its Raptor engines, which is an integral part of the two-part Interplanetary Transport System or ITS that will be used as transport vehicle to Mars.
"There doesn't seem to be anything they're not willing to tackle when it comes to space," Bryce Space and Technology chief executive officer Carissa Christensen said.
While mostly quiet for now, Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin are most likely not far behind.
NASA's Mission To Mars
According to Robert Zubrin, a rocket scientist who assisted NASA in developing its plan for a crewed mission to Mars, the space agency is currently focusing on too many unnecessary activities that could guarantee getting left behind.
"Unless NASA stops looking for excuses and diversionary activities and decides to focus its efforts on getting people to Mars, it is very probable that several others will beat it to Mars," Zubrin said.
Zubrin also expressed his frustration over the space agency's decision to concentrate on building a moon base instead of pushing forward with the Mars mission.
"The lunar orbit tollgate ... is a tollgate in space, demanding a great deal of money before it allows us to go further. It will waste tens of billions of dollars and a decade of time ... If they were looking to send humans to Mars, they would not build the lunar orbit tollgate," he added.