The race to Mars is on.
It’s scheduled to send a 6-person crew to orbit Mars by 2028 and scout a site for the first human landing by the early 2030s. From orbit, it will be easier to control robots on Mars. Astronauts may also leave the base to explore Mars’ two moons firsthand.
Eventually, the base could be a haven for future landing missions. Astronauts could take a lander from the base to the surface and back. Surface missions could last 2 weeks and safely abort at any time.
NASA and Lockheed plan to start building the base in 2021. The SLS rocket will launch pieces of the base into Earth’s orbit, where it will be fully assembled before launching to Mars.
The big question is, will Lockheed and NASA beat SpaceX to Mars? SpaceX recently announced plans to land humans on Mars by 2024. That’s 4 years earlier than Lockheed and NASA. SpaceX’s plans may be more ambitious, but only time will reveal who wins the race to Mars.
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