April 3, 2015 – The Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye (The Science Guy®) and members of the Society’s Board of Directors today announced results of the ”Humans Orbiting Mars” workshop. The goal of the workshop was to gather expert science, engineering, and policy professionals to build consensus on the key elements of a long-term, cost constrained, executable program to send humans to Mars.
“Getting humans to Mars is far more complex than getting to Earth’s Moon,” said Nye. “But space exploration brings out the best in us. By reaching consensus on the right set of missions, we can send humans to Mars without breaking the bank.”
“We believe we now have an example of a long term, cost constrained, executable humans to Mars program,” said Professor Scott Hubbard, workshop chair and Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University. “This workshop was an important step in community-building among the many groups interested in Mars science and exploration.”
“While the conditions for another Apollo-era Kennedy moment don’t exist, we have a highly skilled scientific engineering and policy community that is eager to get going on sending humans to Mars,” said Dr. John Logsdon, workshop co-chair and professor emeritus, Space Policy Institute, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. “We believe the consensus points achieved during this workshop can get us moving down the path to the Red Planet.”
As a result of workshop discussions, 70 attendees reached consensus on the following points:
A credible plan for a long term Humans to Mars program that constrains costs by minimizing new developments was presented.
For a sustainable, executable, and successful Humans to Mars program, an orbital mission in 2033 is required.
An orbital mission will enable scientific exploration of Mars and its moons while developing essential experience in human travel from Earth to the Mars system.
An independent cost estimate showed that such a program would fit within a budget that grows with inflation after NASA ends its lead role in the International Space Station.
Landing humans on Mars can affordably and logically follow later in the 2030s.
There will be both scientific and public support for this orbit-first approach.
Pursuing this orbit-first approach will establish a framework for involving the private sector and international partners, and will create a unified Mars science and exploration community.
A full report on the “Humans Orbiting Mars” workshop will be released later in the year.