“Moon to Mars”: NASA reveals in detail its strategy to take humans to Mars

NASA  has updated its “Moon to Mars” plan as part of the Artemis program , including 63 high-level goals to reach Mars .

NASA has released an updated  list of goals it must achieve in its plan to land the first humans on Mars . “Moon to Mars” is the document that describes how the Artemis Program that will take astronauts back to the Moon is the bridge for an eventual manned mission to the red planet: the most ambitious goal of the US space agency.

As  Tuesday’s post reveals, NASA will use these goals as a blueprint to explain how it plans to send astronauts to Mars . The space agency and its commercial and international partners will acquire the technology and skills they need to be able to work on the lunar surface. It will then apply this knowledge to its manned mission to the Red Planet, which is tentatively scheduled for the late 2030s or early 2040s.

New goals to reach Mars

At the beginning of 2022, NASA detailed 50 high-level objectives for the Artemis program and last June asked members of its work team, the public, private companies and its international partners to participate in this document. Then, he organized workshops to develop ideas with an even higher goal, receiving more than 5 thousand recommendations to refine his previous list.

The 63 objectives that were obtained with this update reflected a “mature strategy” of the space agency and its partners as they develop a plan for “sustained human presence and exploration throughout the solar system “ , according to what he explained in a statement . .

“Our first draft of the Moon to Mars Goals was intentionally broad, and the overwhelming responses we received encouraged us to be even broader in some areas, but more specific in others. We went from 50 goals to 63, spanning multidisciplinary science, transportation and habitation, lunar and Martian infrastructure, operations, and a new domain: recurring principles ,” said Pam Melroy , NASA deputy administrator .

NASA’s objectives to reach Mars according to its category

This rethinking of the strategy is in line with the Artemis program that seeks to return humanity to the Moon and keep it on the satellite forever. The new 63 high-level goals were divided into five categories: recurring principles, science, infrastructure, transportation and settlement, and operations.

The recurring principles cover common themes in all its objectives, such as collaboration with international and industrial organizations, guaranteeing the health of astronauts and returning them to Earth safe and sound, maximizing the time available for the crew to carry out their research during the mission and to “foster the expansion of the economic sphere beyond Earth’s orbit to support United States industry and innovation . 

The scientific objectives of “Moon to Mars” include planetary, solar, human, biological science, and basic physics, as well as other fields. According to the plan, it is to “assess how the interaction of exploration systems and the deep space environment affect human health, performance, and space human factors to inform future exploration-class missions . ”

Specific infrastructure goals for the Moon and Mars include power generation, numerous robotic capabilities, a communications, navigation and timing infrastructure as well as the use of resources in those areas. “We plan to establish an integrated system of systems to carry out a campaign of human exploration missions to the Moon and Mars, while living and working on the lunar and Martian surface, with a safe return to Earth , “ the agency mentions regarding the “transport and housing” section.

For the operational requirements, the establishment of command and control processes, surface mobility operating systems -space suits, tools and vehicles- and the consideration of communication delays are detailed. The document mentions the “ability to find, repair, upgrade or use instruments and equipment from robotic landers or previous human missions on the surface of the Moon and Mars ” .

While these objectives are very specific, they can also be somewhat daunting because they are extremely stringent to ensure mission success and crew safety. “The goals will help ensure that a long-term strategy for solar system exploration can maintain constancy of purpose and withstand political and funding changes,” says Jim Free , NASA associate administrator for the Development Mission Directorate. of Exploration Systems .