On July 20, 1969, America landed on the moon.
Since then, no one has landed on … anything.
Now, an official at NASA is giving a date for when man can land — for the first time — on another planet, in this case, Mars.
“I suggest we can do it by 2035,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said on Monday.
In April, Bridenstine told federal lawmakers that NASA astronauts plan to return to the moon within five years. “We can move up the Mars landing by moving up the moon landing [to 2024],” Bridenstine told the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. “We need to learn how to live and work in another world. The moon is the best place to prove those capabilities and technologies. The sooner we can achieve that objective, the sooner we can move on to Mars.”
That has prompted the National Aeronautics and Space Administration administrator to push up a possible Mars mission.
“If we are accelerating the moon landing, we are accelerating the Mars landing,” Bridenstine said during a panel discussion at the International Astronautical Congress, according to Space.com.
The unknown piece, however, is how NASA will marshal international support for that ambitious Mars goal. Planning for the mid-2030s sounds early stage now, but the technological obstacles facing Mars-bound astronauts are immense. Problems to solve include how astronauts will stay healthy during several months of travel in space, how they will have enough food on the Red Planet, or how to run a mission with several minutes of time delay in communications between Mission Control on Earth and the astronaut crew on Mars.
Vice President Mike Pence also spoke at the 70th International Astronautical Congress, saying the ambitious moon mission date shows a “renewed vigor and vision” for U.S. space exploration under the Trump administration.
“The truth is, for more than a generation, a vision for human space exploration had languished, in this country and around the world,” Pence said. “But those days are over.”
“With America’s renewed vision for human space exploration, we will lead mankind into the vast expanse of space,” Pence said. “To be clear, our vision is to be a leader amongst freedom-loving nations on the adventure into the great unknown. The United States of America will always be willing to work closely with like-minded, freedom-loving nations as we lead mankind into the final frontier.”