What's the Latest Development?

Speaking at the Humans 2 Mars Summit this week in Washington, NASA director Charles Bolden said that humans "now stand on the precipice of a second opportunity to press forward to what I think is man's destiny — to step onto another planet." However, to meet President Barack Obama's stated goal of landing humans on Mars by 2030, experts say NASA has a great deal of work to do and they need to start right away. Participants at the summit, which ends today (Wednesday), have been hashing out every detail of the mission, from Earth launch to Earth return. 

What's the Big Idea?

One of the many hurdles that have yet to be cleared for this mission include the possible need for as many as three separate launches: one to get the crew and their spacecraft to Mars, one to get their living space there, and one to get the crew home. There's also the question of obtaining supplemental water and oxygen, since the crew won't be able to bring enough with them on the trip there. These resources would have to come from the planet itself, and "the technologies needed to extract and use [them] don't yet exist." Ultimately, according to International Space Station director Sam Scimemi, the mission architecture must be finalized by 2020, and the design status for all major technologies must be "pencils down" by 2025.

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