Would you be willing? It may come in some of our earth times.
Can you trust the technology? Will those who want to live have a choice?
Or are you more interested in the latest flavor flav minstrel episode???
When will a human being set foot on Mars? The answer to that question has become much clearer, just in the past few weeks. Right now, it looks like the first mission sending humans beings to Mars will happen within most of our lifetimes, and is scheduled to occur by the year 2030.
On January 14, 2004, President George W. Bush charted a new course of human exploration of the solar system, which may one day send a human mission to Mars. Bush called for the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet by 2010 in order to pursue the development of a new "Crew Exploration Vehicle" to carry astronauts beyond low earth orbit for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972. Bush committed NASA to return to the Moon no later than 2020, and more likely by 2015, in order to prove the technologies necessary to someday send humans "beyond". While there is no specific deadline for a piloted Mars mission in Bush's vision, NASA seems to understand that the return to the moon is only meant as a waypoint, a "pit-stop", on the way to Mars.
The other nations of the world quickly reacted to Bush's announcement and offered to support the U.S.'s bold new plans, and some have publicly stated they are currently working on plans of their own.
Since the January announcement, NASA has been refocusing itself for the new efforts. A new NASA "enterprise" (or division of the organization) focusing on Exploration Systems was founded and former Navy Admiral Craig Steidle was appointed to run it. Steidle was formerly the Pentagon's director of the Joint Strike Fighter, among other duties during his distinguished career. Steidle's main task will be to manage "Project Constellation", the project tasked to build the Crew Exploration Vehicle and other systems. The Code T enterprise was also given the Project Prometheus Nuclear systems initiative founded last year, which will also help in the mission to Mars by creating faster propulsion systems, shortening the journey between Earth and Mars.
To determine the correct way to implement the new vision for NASA, President Bush created the "President's Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy" (informally known as the "Moon-Mars Commission") which is headed by former Air Force Secretary and aerospace industry executive Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge. The Moon-Mars Commission also contains many other distinguished members, such as Neal DeGrasse Tyson (prominent astronomer and Director of the Hayden Planetarium), Paul Spudis (lunar researcher and deputy leader of the Clementine science team), Laurie Leshin (meteorite researcher and designer of one of the four Mars Scout mission finalists), and Maria Zuber (Mars research at MIT). The Commission will generate an influential report this summer, and it is expected that Mars will play a prominent role in their recommendations to NASA.
All in all, this is a very exciting time for Humans to Mars, and more developments are expected over the course of this year. James Burk, the Editor of MarsNews.com, founded a new website shortly after Bush's announcement. The Project Constellation Weblog will track the progress of NASA's new effort to build a Crew Exploration Vehicle, as well as the plans surrounding humanity's return to the Moon and eventual mission to Mars.