Achieving a Feasible and Affordable Path to Mars for Human Explorers
Human exploration of Mars has been identified for decades as one of the most compelling goals for human space flight in the post-Apollo era. Over the past several years, significant experience in long-duration human space operation has been gained using the International Space Station (ISS). More recently, concepts building upon this experience to enable “cost- achievable” approaches within current annual budget guidelines in industry, NASA, and international human spaceflight programs have been presented.
At the same time, there is a continuing strong public interest in humans to Mars as one of several keystone destinations. As demonstrated in the recent Mars Generation Survey, Americans overwhelmingly support human and robotic Mars exploration. Among the findings of this scientific national poll were that 71 percent of Americans believe humans will land on Mars by 2033 and 75 percent believe that NASA’s budget should be doubled to one percent of the U.S. federal budget to fund initiatives including a human mission to Mars. Complete results of the poll can be found in the Mars Generation National Opinion Poll (http://www.exploremars.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Mars-Generation-Survey-full-report-March- 7-2013.pdf)