It’s incredible to think that the idea of humans travelling to Mars is so viable that an entire summit is taking place to talk about it. But as interesting as it may be, how much would it actually cost to get there?
The Humans to Mars Summit commenced last week in Washington, a gathering entirely dedicated to visiting the red planet. Big name guests include astronaut Buzz Aldrin and speakers from NASA and the Mars Institute. Ahead of the summit, Pascal Lee, director of the Mars Institute, has opened up about the challenges and possibilities of getting there.
Speaking to Money, Lee explained that though the Apollo lunar landing program cost NASA US$24 billion over 10 years throughout the 1960s, the cost of actually reaching Mars and exploring is much, much, much higher.
If the US plans to visit Mars “the government way,” it’ll cost approximately one trillion US dollars over 25 years.
That trip to Santorini isn’t looking so expensive now, is it?
The reason for the huge price tag is that NASA will need to develop the systems needed to get people to, and around, Mars. “For example, right now, we have a beautiful space suit, but it weighs 300 lbs (136 kg).
“We’d also be looking for life, and for that we’ll have to develop technology that can dig down beneath Mars’ inhospitable surface to find ice or water, and also develop the means of transporting ourselves to locations where that water exists.”
There are several things that can kill you and result in a horrible death if you’re exposed unprotected, so, talking about kids growing up on Mars, it’s not nearly as soon as you’d hope or think.
“We instead envision something like Antarctica, where you have maybe a handful of people there at a time performing research for a few decades,” Lee said.
OK, so Mars travel kinda sounds like something out of a sci-fi horror film – but while it may not be possible in our lifetimes, our grandchildren may well be among the first to set foot on our galactic neighbour.