Following the recent success of explorations on Mars, NASA has unveiled a comprehensive report on how the American space agency plans to launch succeeding space missions to the red planet.
In its latest report, NASA's Journey to Mars: Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration, the space agency discusses three primary thresholds that it expects to encounter during its planned journey to Mars. Each threshold features increasing levels of difficulty as humans travel farther from Earth.
Charles Bolden, the administrator of NASA, said that the space agency has reached the closest it has ever been to deploying American astronauts to the red planet. He said that the release of their Journey to Mars report provides additional details as to how they align all of their work in order to achieve this goal.
Bolden added that he looks forward to discussing the outline of their plan with Congress members, as well as with NASA's commercial and international partners who will take part in the International Astronautical Congress scheduled for next week.
According to NASA, it plans to manage the challenges of sending humans to Mars by developing and carrying out its mission capabilities in different stages.
The NASA plan involves conducting research onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Agency scientists will carry out tests on technologies as well as study the advancement of human performance and health using the microgravity laboratory on the ISS. Data collected from these studies will then be used for the development of deep space missions.
This mission phase features NASA scientists carrying out complex objectives in a deep space environment that will allow astronauts to make the journey back to Earth in a matter of days.
The space agency will focus its research on cislunar space, which is the space surrounding the moon where a number of potential staging orbits can be utilized for deep space missions in the future. Researchers will develop and validate mission capabilities needed to allow humans to live and work in areas of space far from Earth, such as on the red planet Mars.
This phase involves combining all data gathered through ISS and deep space research to allow NASA to send manned missions to the Martian system, particularly to the low orbit of Mars or one of its moons, and eventually to the surface of the red planet itself.
NASA associate administrator William Gerstenmaier explained that the agency's plan links near-term objectives and the development of mission capabilities for the eventual journey to the Martian system and sustainable manned missions in deep space.
He said that the strategy allows researchers to develop ways to achieve horizon goals while producing near-term benefits and drafting a solid architecture that can accommodate changes in the budget, scientific discoveries, political priorities, technological breakthroughs and developing partnerships.
NASA is set on charting new territory in space exploration and will adapt accordingly to new scientific discoveries and opportunities.
The space agency said it is focused on refining the necessary architectural pieces for the planned mission to Mars, which will define NASA's efforts over the next two decades.