To Infinity and Beyond

Agencies have their sights set on far reaching space travel

NASA hopes to have a manned mission to Mars by 2033, Nature reported Wednesday. Part of an internal NASA study, the Mars Program Planning Group has been charged with revitalizing the agency’s Mars Program, as well as getting the human and robotic sides of NASA to collaborate on the initiative.

While the Obama Administration has stated that it would like a manned mission to Mars by the early 2030s, this is the first specific date that has been put forth.

Orlando Figueroa, head of the Mars Program Planning Group, presented the plan to the National Academies committee of astrobiology and planetary science.

Figueroa’s group will submit a final plan to NASA in August.

Other countries have ambitious goals as well. This week the Global Space Exploration conference was held and representatives from both Russia and Japan said they hope to launch more manned missions to the moon, as well as achieve more permanent lunar endeavors.

“We’re not talking about repeating what mankind achieved 40 years ago,” the head of Russia’s Space Agency Vladimir Popovkin said through a translator. “We’re talking about establishing permanent bases.” 

The Pentagon’s research wing hopes to go even further into space. DARPA awarded the Dorothy Jemison Foundation $500,000 for its 100 Year Starship initiative which aims to make interstellar space travel a reality by 2112.

The first step for the organization is hosting a public symposium in September to allow scientists and engineers to present papers and discuss the challenges of the project.

“Yes, it can be done. Our current technology arc is sufficient,” Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison said in a statement. “100 Year Starship is about building the tools we need to travel to another star system in the next hundred years. We’re embarking on a Journey across time and space. If my language is dramatic, it is because this project is monumental. This is a global aspiration. And each step of the way, its progress will benefit life on earth. Our team is both invigorated and sobered by the confidence DARPA has in us to start an independent, private initiative to help make interstellar travel a reality."