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22 Mar 2017

Donald Trump signs bill authorising crewed NASA mission to Mars

Opening new vistas for human exploration of space, US President Donald Trump authorized almost $20bn for NASA programmes in 2018, directing it to plan a "crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s".

The bill also supports use of the International Space Station through 2024.

Experts say sending people to live on Mars, 225mn kilometers away, would require immense technological and financial resources.

In context

Donald Trump plans to send people to Mars
Praise for Trump's NASA bill from several quarters

Who said what

Praise for Trump's NASA bill from several quarters

President Donald Trump hailed the bill as a job creator. "This bill also calls for ongoing medical monitoring and treatment of our astronauts," he added.

Senator Marco Rubio said the law will promote innovation and improve collaboration between NASA and commercial space sector, including other benefits.

NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said the support will help NASA retain leadership in exploration and scientific achievement.

28 Sep 2016

NASA might join SpaceX, Boeing league

With the bill, NASA is likely to join the league of private competitors SpaceX and Boeing, both of whom announced in 2016 their plans to colonise Mars.

In September, SpaceX announced the Interplanetary Transport System for the project.

Next month, Boeing unveiled its Space Launch System. CEO Dennis Muilenburg said he was convinced the first person on Mars would arrive there on a Boeing.

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Challenges to the Mars colonisation plans

Challenges

Challenges to the Mars colonisation plans

Getting people to the Red Planet is going to be difficult, but keeping them alive there would be another challenge.

Even if one landing occurs without problems, reliably successful repetition of the project is doubtful.

Costs of settlement would be huge, and whether private companies like SpaceX and Boeing being able to fund it is unlikely.

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