Bill Nye: NASA could put humans in orbit around Mars in the year 2033 – 2033 is not arbitrary. It’s when there’s a pretty good orbit - there’s pretty good orbits happening often enough - but 2033 is a real good orbit of the Earth and Mars. So you could get humans in orbit around Mars without raising the NASA budget beyond letting it increase with inflation, which is an increase but not an extraordinary one.
Furthermore, in order to pull this off without any increase in the NASA budget, everybody has to stick to these agreements that NASA will no longer be the lead funder or supporter of the International Space Station. They’re going to retire the space station or let commercial entities take it over.
But if you did that, really stuck to the agreements and you let the NASA budget increase with inflation you could have humans orbiting Mars in 2033. If the Mars 2020 rover is enabled to land in a place where there might be salty water - or ancient salty water - and were to discover evidence of life, perhaps we would accelerate that schedule.
And as we say if you really have a plan to really put humans orbiting Mars in 2033 which would enable them to land two, three or four years later to land on Mars. People would come out of everywhere to volunteer for that mission. We’d have astronauts. We’d have mission controllers. We’d have engineers. We’d have venture capitalists enabling new technologies to be sold to NASA or other space stations.
If you included other space agencies around the world – Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. Chinese space agency, even which is politically difficult but nevertheless possible. Any space research organization – JAXA, the Japanese aerospace exploration agency. If you included all those guys you could lower the price for NASA and then really enable humans to get there in new, cool ways.
The reason though, everybody, is not to go live on Mars. That’s just beyond – they just haven’t thought through how difficult that is. When there’s nothing to breathe, not just nothing to drink or eat but nothing to breathe it makes it complicated. But if you were to find evidence of life it would change the course of human history. Not overnight but over the course of months and years. Everybody would get to thinking about what it means to be a living thing in the cosmos and it would change us.