NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) both have a plan to send humans to Mars. NASA’s plan is known as Constellation and ESA’s equivalent is Aurora. Russia, though its plans are less well defined than those published by NASA and ESA, has announced its intentions of sending cosmonauts to the Red Planet by 2035, a mission it may undertake in collaboration with China. Although it may be possible for either NASA, ESA or a Sino-Russian venture to embark upon a unilateral Mars mission, in reality international collaboration will be required to make such exploration sustainable. This fact is reflected in the Global Exploration Strategy (GES), a template that may result in one or more nations joining forces in their efforts to land astronauts on the surface of Mars. Meanwhile, NASA and ESA, and to a lesser extent, Russia and China, continue to develop the technologies required to realize a manned mission to Mars in the 2030 to 2040 timeframe. This chapter discusses the plans of the major international space agencies to develop these technologies and assesses the political posture for embarking upon a manned Mars mission.
KeywordsEuropean Space Agency Lunar Surface Manned Mission Descent Module Mars Mission
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