US space agency NASA has confirmed that it wants humans to reach Mars by 2033.Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator, said that in order to achieve that goal, other parts of the program—including a lunar landing— need to move forward more quickly. “We want to achieve a Mars landing in 2033,” Bridenstine told lawmakers at a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill.
“We can move up the Mars landing by moving up the Moon landing. The Moon is the proving ground,” added the former Republican congressman, who was appointed by President Donald Trump.
Many experts and lawmakers are concerned that NASA cannot make the deadline, especially given the major delays in development of its new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System, which is being built by aerospace giant Boeing.
Any mission to Mars would take at least two years, given the distance to be traveled. Getting there alone would take six months, as opposed to the three days needed to reach the Moon.
A round trip to Mars can only take place when the Red Planet is positioned on the same side of the Sun as Earth—that occurs about every 26 months, so the dates are 2031, 2033, and so on. NASA wants to learn how to extract and use the tons of ice at the Moon’s south pole.