Prediction is always a gamble, but I feel quite confident that before the end of the 21st century, human beings will have set foot on the surface of the planet Mars. In fact, I rather suspect that the Mars trip will be complete well within the first half of the next century. Enough studies have been done so that we have a reasonably good idea of how the trip will be done and how long it will take. There are a number of new technologies which need to be developed if the trip is to come off; some are absolute requirements, and others can be worked around by considerably increasing the weight of the spacecraft. There are a number of open questions as to how the trip is to be undertaken. Will it be a Soviet expedition, an American expedition, or a cooperative expedition? How will this trip fit into the larger context of a space program?
KeywordsSpace Shuttle Solar Sail Space Program Martian Surface Rocket Fuel
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- 1.For a general discussion of Mars missions, see John Butler, “Mission and Space Vehicle Concepts,” in M.B. Duke et al., Manned Mars Missions: Working Group Papers (Washington, D.C.: NASA, 1986), NTIS Documents N87-17722 through N87-17759.Google Scholar
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- 4.Space Science Board, National Academy of Sciences, Space Science in the 21st Century: Imperatives for the Decades 1995–2015, (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1988); see also Craig Covault, “Science Board Proposes New Space Program Direction,” Aviation Week (August 1, 1988), pp. 36-40.Google Scholar
- 5.I’m writing this in the summer of 1988, at one of those times which recur at two-year intervals when Mars rises around sunset, is high in the south at midnight, and sets in the west around sunrise.Google Scholar
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