NASA has stated that its top priority is to take humans to Mars and they added that it is nearly impossible for any private space company to achieve this goal without its support.
NASA’s statements come at a time when it faces serious competition; not just from the European Space Agency (ESA) but also from agencies out of Asia as well as the privately-owned Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which is operated by the ambitious entrepreneur Elon Musk.
The statement was declared when US House Committee meeting was held on Thursday which focused on Science, Space and Technology. NASA official Charles Bolden was invited to attend the meeting and express his vision for the space agency for the near and far future. During the meeting, Bolden expressed confidence that a manned mission to Mars could be launched by 2030.
Bolden said, “Our ultimate focus is the journey to Mars and everything comes back to that. We need to understand Mars and what happened to it to understand what might happen to Earth. Reaching Mars and colonizing it is possible because Mars is the planet that is most like Earth. No commercial company without the support of NASA and government is going to get to Mars.”
Bolden also explained why it is important for NASA to lead the mission to Mars. He stated that NASA’s test facility is available to the private sector for doing this. This is the logic behind Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which is expected to be launched in 2020. The aim of the ARM is to put chunk of asteroid into orbit around the moon. NASA is planning to use this to test critical technology, like Solar Electric Propulsion and autonomous robotic technology.
According to NASA, Mars is quite likely far too hostile an environment for humans today. However, they added that the more experts study it, the better we will be able to understand how we can best use it to meet our needs.