In what will no doubt be disappointing news to space enthusiasts, the American National Research Council (NRC) have issued a report saying NASA will be incapable of sending a man to Mars for decades.
According to their 283-page report published online by the Washington Post, NASA’s current budgets and plans for reaching Mars are completely unsustainable and if they don’t keep up with rates of inflation will “invite failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the United States does best.”
Spending US$3.2m across 18 months of research, the NRC had in-fact suggested that we should return astronauts to the moon, something that was under discussion during the previous White House administration under George W Bush however, when Barack Obama become president, he refused any notion that they would make a return to the moon having previously been quoted in 2010 as saying: “I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before.”
The committee also questioned whether the endeavour of sending humans into space justifies the incredible costs to send them but have suggested a number of solutions that could still make it possible to land on the red planet including establishing a moon base as the departure point or creating stronger ties to one of its major political rivals China, who have been rapidly devolving their own space programme and hope to place a man on the moon by 2025.
NASA meanwhile has responded to the criticisms of its organisational structure by saying they are very much aware of their shortcomings and have begun addressing some of the concerns that the NRC have highlighted.
NASA’s deputy associate administrator Greg Williams was quoted as saying: “NASA’s been doing some work, and has been doing some thinking over the last six months, that is in alignment with what the NRC says the top-level goals are.”