back to article NASA reveals manned Mars mission plans

NASA says it will send a 400,000kg crewed spacecraft on a 30-month round trip to Mars as early as February 2031. The details of the planned mission were announced at a meeting in Houston, Texas, the BBC reports. According to the plans, the spacecraft will be built in orbit, being far too large to ever be lifted from the bottom …


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  1. Chris Morrison
    Paris Hilton

    On Time and On Budget

    I'm willing to bet anybody my mortgage(which will be paid off by then) on Nasa not achieveing this on time and on budget (don't know what the budget is but I bet they dont meet it).

    Any takers!???


    PS- This bet will be declared null and void should teleporting be discovered in the next 25 years! For mission success, crew must return to earth and the mission must cost it's initial budget.

    I chose Paris Hilton as my avatar as if I was stuck on a space ship for 300 months I'd want a photo of her in my bedroom.

  2. Tetsugaku-San

    2031 - a little late?

    What a terrible waste we have made of the opportunities offered us by the early space race, we should be out amongst the stars now instead we've wasted trillions and killed millions in wars.

    Why don't I have my flying car?

    Why can't I retire on the moon yet?

  3. Sir Runcible Spoon

    Phasers on stun

    "NASA says shielding still has to be developed"

    so, who's been sitting on the tech for force-fields then? coz they sure aint gonna haul tonnes of lead sheeting up into space.

    Still, $450bn.

    The yanks may have a lot of issues (and people may have a lot of issues with them) - but they are still our best hope (and our worst nightmare).

    If they get us into space then all will be forgiven :D

  4. John

    Back by Christmas, 2063

    Let's see - six months out, sixteen months relaxing on the red sand, and six months back. What are the 'nauts going to be doing for the remaining 362 months of their 390 month mission? That's a long time to be seeking out new life and new civilisation.

    But if someone were to send amanfrommars back home, it'd be worth it.

  5. Curtis W. Rendon
    Thumb Up

    radiation protection

    2031! Cripes, I wonder if I'll be around that long...

    So far as radiation shielding during the trip. a fair amount of water will need to be hauled along for the crew, even with a closed loop system, so having a "fallout shelter" inside the water tank would work nicely. Think of a cylinder within a cylinder, the inner area would be sleeping quarters or fallout shelter, and the area between the outer casing and the inner would contain the water supply. Water shields against radiation quite nicely, and such a design should be easy to build.


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a waste of money

    But it's better than spending the money on bombing people and invading other countries, I suppose.

  7. mark carlisle

    whatever the chinese can do...

    methinks this is a nice american salute to the press the chinese have been getting for their 'Moon mission'.

    Nothing like a 'superpower-ed space race'

  8. Stuart Elliott

    Capricorn Two ?

    Didn't they do this charade already?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Bah! What about the moon?

    Surely it would be prudent to setup a base on the moon? You know iron out all those pesky little problems for long term survival in an alien environment whilst been (relatively) close to home. Not to mention the numerous benefits from establishing an off planet colony so close to home, which include making it easier to build big space ships, plunder yet unknown resources and other wonderful things (space tourism). The only humans to get close to Mars in the next 50 years are those who like a chocolate treat from nestle.

  10. Tom Callway

    Flash Ahhash - Survivor of the Economy

    Perhaps George W. has being taking his Flash Gordon comics too literally.

    Stop focusing on US economic meltdown and look at the pretty monkey.</whitehouse>

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What could possibly go wrong?

    NASA has to get four of the largest payloads ever launched into orbit on a new rocket design, then assemble the Mars craft itself. Anything goes wrong, they have to have a spare waiting to go to the launch pad. To that monster they're going to add a nuclear power plant and the absolutely vital radiation shielding which hasn't even been imagined let alone designed.

    The whole lot will be shot into the radiation-soaked environment between Earth and Mars for six months in the hope that nothing too-vital breaks or no one gets sick. On arrival, a good chunk of the ship has to enter the Martian atmosphere behind a brittle cold-soaked thermal shield and descend through the notoriously fickle Martian atmosphere before landing in the middle of a boulder-strewn desert.

    It then sits, deep-frozen, for sixteen months on a surface with the chemical composition of bleach bathed in the sort of UV that gives your bones a nice healthy tan.

    The lander then has to return to orbit, mate with its booster and endure the six month rotisserie back to Earth.

    Give NASA one thing - they're ambitious. If they can pull this off they'll have finally matched the ambition of Apollo, but sadly, I don't think it'll happen - the NASA budget is easy pickings for Congressional opponents and the orbiting dodo of the ISS will always find ways to vacuum up more money.

  12. Tawakalna

    I for one..

    ..welcome our new Martian masters - once they capture the NASA space podule and return to Earth in human bodies in preparation for their great invasion fleet hidden under Syria Planum..

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Loved the amanfrommars idea!

    But why spend $450bn on a 400,000Kg space ship when an welded shut oil drum strapped to a booster rocket would suffice?

    Coming from a planet with little atmosphere and no magnetosphere, I'd expect him to survive the trip, though the landing may be a little bumpy.

  14. Morely Dotes

    400,000kg ?!?

    Are we seriously discussing sending 440 English tonnes of spacecraft to Mars? In how many launches? The existing Shuttle is only around 100 tons, and NASA can barely get that into fairly low orbit.

    I'm very much in favor of manned space exploration, but I really don't think NASA can pull this off. Either that, or our journalist has gotten his figures confused.

  15. heystoopid


    Sadly the one small problem being overlooked is that since George Bush has given the US taxpayers the insoluble problem of funding an endless oil war and incrementing the US National Debt by a minimum of two trillion dollars per annum !

    Thus by 2031 , those pesky Yankees will have either totally bankrupted the country into absolute insolvency with a National Debt of well in excess fifty trillion dollars ! So by then the average insolvent American could not even afford a paper clip let alone lift one gram into orbit thus sending a manned mission to Mars would be literally impossible in those circumstances !

    By the way given the duration and the mission work load requirements for a three to four year round trip , we would be looking at a minimum crew of at least twenty four or more individuals at least !

    The other aspect has been shown in reality that unmanned robotic missions like Mars Rover are the most cost effective way of doing things as they are fully capable of providing the same information for the least amount of risk !

    To end with a quote from Rockhound in the 1998 movie Armageddon "You know we're sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn't it?"

  16. Anonymous Coward

    No comment from amanfrommars?

    We're waiting....

    To those that think this is an enormous waste of money. Well, first, it is far better than spending money on a useless war. But beyond that, eventually we'll have used up this lil' ball's resources and need to branch out. And where's everyone's spirit of exploration? The sad fact is that a lot of the high-tech stuff we take for granted and that has at least marginally improved life has come as a bonus from the space program (and unfortunately the military's quest for better ways to kill) --the internet being a direct example.

  17. Lol Whibley

    they've already had some advice on this..

    from a bloke named Kim Stanley Robinson.. Was their 'special advisor' for 15 years according to the biog in the back of his Mars books..

    pure fiction but as real as the proposal from NADS..

  18. Daniel B.


    So my space ambitions are truly dead, as I might be 40 when the first manned mission reaches Mars, and still be that much far away from Mars colonization. I still hope for a Lunar Base, but I just don't see that happening unless the Chinese do it. I think my best bet would be to buy a ticket to the ISS with the Russians... except I don't have that kind of $. :(

  19. Graham Marsden

    The chances of anything going to Mars...

    Are $450bn to one he said...!

  20. chew6acca
    Paris Hilton

    I have a cunning plan...

    Why not strap a rocket to the ISS and point it at mars?

    You could fill it with 'celebrities' and make a reality tv show -the person with the least votes each week is evicted.

    If enough people voted then in 16 months you could even send a rescue ship for the winner.

    Back in reality... they should set up base camp on phobos - much easier to land on - then they could pop down to mars.

    Hope I live to see it.

  21. Tom Haczewski
    Paris Hilton

    And the obvious...

    Can we send Paris?

    We can tell her it's a humanitarian mission, we know how much she loves those - when in fact she'll have heard about the 28-month-or-so tan, and will agree whole-heartedly.

    And the thought of the mission becoming jeopardized due to radiation poisoning / lack of repair skills / malfunction / someone pigging all the oxygen would mean nobody back on Earth would have a problem putting her on the craft.

  22. Anonymous Coward


    Only one way to launch that kinda payload, Orion, or ol' boom-boom as Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle nicknamed it, cheap(ish) to build, just don't worry about the fallout.....

  23. Plankmeister

    I find it absolutely bizarre...

    ...that NASA still continues to implement the biggest possible project it can under the guise "we need to design a whole bunch of new technology to get this working!", especially in today's technological environment.

    Bob Zubrin is right... NASA is an oversized, mal-managed money pit filled with aerospace engineers and managers who aren't interested in progress of space flight; they simply want to get their hands on all that ca$h so they can develop exotic solutions.

    Using Zubrin's Mars Direct program, the goal of landing humans on Mars is much easier and MUCH cheaper than any of NASA's hair-brained schemes. If only NASA's administrators, top management guys and technical advisors would stop trying to bring back the Apollo glory days...

    In theory, with a government that was willing to fund space exploration instead of country invasion, NASA could have put humans on Mars more than a decade ago.

  24. Neil

    I bet...

    The Chinese get the first. And do it for about $20m.

  25. Geordie Pete

    Cracking idea

    Sod the Chinese, I hear Wallace and Gromit's latest design is ready for flight testing next year, complete with Wensleydale radiation shields.

  26. Count Ludwig

    @Curtis W. Rendon - Radiation protection

    Doesn't practically all the bad radiation come from the sun? If so then you just need a metre or so of water between you and it. Your spaceship / safe area can be a long thin cylinder with the dense end end always facing the sun. Multiply water depth by the "floor" area in square metres to get metric tonnes of water.

  27. Vulpes Vulpes

    This is the voice of the Mysterons

    Watch out for the rock-snakes, and whatever you do, don't shell the building complex when you stumble across it!

    We don't want those pesky Mysterons getting the hump.

    If they do, we'll end up with Captain Black running around the planet doing a one-man Al-Qaeda job, and only good old Captain Scarlet to keep a lid on things.


  28. John
    Dead Vulture

    slight of hand

    what we should all be worried about is what NEED someone would find to spending 450bn on a manned space flight to mars, while we have been bombarding this planet with all type and frequencies of waves searching for water etc. ALL civilizations geat greedy right before their downfall!

  29. John
    Dead Vulture


    Everyone is talking about force fields, while this technology has been available since 1904. Look up Tom Beardon and Nikola Tesla is you have questions :p

    You would have had your flying car too, but Tesla lost the industrialization war with Edisson

  30. Robert


    We have to go to Mars and beyond; at least at some point in time (our sun demands it), but I would rather see a colonized moon base, small asteroid colonies or even floating space stations all along the way to wherever and whenever mankind is going. You don't throw an infant off of a crab boat in the middle of the Alaskan ocean and expect it to swim. So why then is a floating dead rock almost 100 million miles away a good place for mankind to get our feet wet in the cosmic ocean?

    If the whole reason for this is just to prove that we can do it, umm why, and to whom are we trying to prove it to? What will we learn by sending a manned space mission to Mars? It won’t benefit us much more than if there were only robots and monkeys on board the spaceship. There is no habitat for us to live; there is no terraformed Marshin soil or a protective breathable atmosphere for our fragile human bodies. Any tests on rocks, gathering samples we can do with robotics. If we need to test living subjects on Mars, take a few rats, bugs, and monkeys. If the mission is to prove man can sustain life for 30 plus months in space; fine, but lets do it a little closer to home; like on our neighborly tide generator; the moon.

    What we should focus on is spending the $450 billion on better ways of leaving the earth, you know with out strapping ourselves in a tube pushed by millions of gallons of highly explosive rocket fuel. If that was the risk you had to take to pick up some eggs at your local Wal-Mart, I think we would have a lot more people buying chickens. It wasn’t until The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 that the US became truly accessible for you and me and with that; came the ability for Joe Nobody to travel where he wanted and when he wanted; which also evolved the car from a luxury to a necessity. Once we have a vehicle to safely leave and enter the earth without the threat of being incinerated by a faulty 30 cent o-ring, and a shield to shelter us from becoming a blistering puddle of our former selves thanks to cosmic radiation. Then let’s start exploring our celestial siblings.

    In just over 400 years we went from the center of the universe being underneath our (understandably so) egocentric feet to realizing our humble, somewhat pathetic and tiny place in the known universe, but that’s okay, someday we will explore it, not you and I but we as mankind will explore it. As for the pace at which we are starting to explore and occupy space, we are cruising at lightning speed, especially when you compare our progress in the past 60 years to the rest of the time humans have inhabited this planet. It just seems slow, and unfair that your child hood dreams of being on a different planet, or walking on the moon, will most likely never be realized by you and probably not even by your grandchildren’s grand kids, but one day there will be a human on Mars pointing out to their child a tiny blue star in the night sky, and telling them the stories of a Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Neil Armstrong, and how their great, great, great, great grandfather was just like them… explorer.

  31. Ronald Mallier

    Good Luck

    Why not send some retired Geologists / Scientists / Doctors etc. who would be prepared to spend the rest of their lives, researching the planet for all mankind, thus saving the return journey, they could of course receive supplies as required, Obviously they would have to be fit for the arduous journey !

    I bet you would have many voluntary people

  32. Anonymous Coward

    @Count Ludwig

    And for added protection, a 30 month's supply of gay sheep to help soak up the residual rays.

  33. Slaine
    Black Helicopters

    how utterly silly

    ... we already have the technology, funding and know-how to create a reasonable facsimile of travelling from the Earth to Mars in the guise of the device we use to browse "El Reg". Let's face it, if the human race was gullable enough to believe that America got to the moon 'sans incident' on it's first attempt all those years ago then why shouldn't a trip to Mars be just as easy with all the enhanced computer graphics (oops, silly me - "technology") available today.

    And just think of all the extra missiles and guns we can spend the funding money on?

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