Today, the private space company SpaceX announced over Twitter that they’ll be sending their uncrewed Dragon capsule to Mars by 2018. To top it off, despite the space agency’s recent cutting of funds to their own Mars mission by 85 percent, NASA has also announced today that they’ll be providing technical support to SpaceX’s 2018 mission.
Earlier this month journalist Stephen Petranek made the prediction during his TED Talk that humans will be living on Mars in only 20 years. Hopefully the collaboration between NASA and SpaceX will help solidify a not-too-distant future where humans finally step foot on the Martian planet.
Photo Credit: Kevin Gill/FlickrCC
There’s a catch however. In exchange for NASA’s technical support to SpaceX’s 2018 mission, the space agency requires data from the spacecraft’s entry into the Red Planet’s atmosphere, descent, and landing. It’s a fair exchange, one which will help the agency financially as it continues cutting funds to programs that would otherwise be very expensive for them to pursue.
“Sending astronauts to Mars, which will be one of the greatest feats of human innovation in the history of civilization, carries with it many, many puzzles to piece together. That’s why we at NASA have made it a priority to reach out to partners in boardrooms, classrooms, laboratories, space agencies and even garages across our country and around the world.”
– Dava Newman, NASA Deputy Administrator
Mars has been the target of exploration and colonization for several decades now. It’s influenced science fiction literature and has pressured space agencies all across the world to start their own mission platforms to finally reach the Red Planet. So far the Martian planet has been colonized by human-made robots, of which has traversed its regions and collected important data for us humans back on Earth. Soon, however, we humans will be taking the front seat and finally step down on the planet. From there, whether we choose to temporarily explore it or to establish a permanent base is up to the agencies behind the mission, but one thing is certain: someday, during this century, humans will be living on Mars.