The long dreamed of trip to Mars by American astronauts has been given a timeline with NASA recently announcing that they have finished a thorough review of the planned mission, and everything is going according to plan for a launch by 2023.
The original date was estimated to be August of 2021. However, NASA recently made structural changes to the Orion Capsule, moving the mission back to a date of April of 2023. The manned mission to Mars is being called EM-2.
Even though the mission has been delayed by almost two years, NASA is expressing great confidence that humans will soon step foot on Mars. NASA’s Curiosity Rover is currently exploring the red planet, giving NASA engineers a good idea of what to expect on a manned mission.
NASA administrator Charles Bolden said “Our work to send humans out into the solar system is progressing. Orion is a key piece of the flexible architecture that will enable humanity to set foot on the Red Planet, and we are committed to building the spacecraft and other elements necessary to make this a reality.”
The Orion Capsule has already been successfully tested by NASA. The test provided scientists and engineers with useful performance data. The data has already been used to make improvements into the design of Orion. Another test flight of Orion is scheduled to launch on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
After the SLS launch takes place, engineers plan to continue working to improve the capsule. Eventually, they will simulate the mission itself, complete with fully integrated environment control and life support systems. The simulation will also include advanced launch and reentry spacesuits to be worn by the team.
While NASA might be ready before April of 2023, the agency is wise in not rushing its mission. Spacecraft are delicate and dangerous, and it’s best not to take any unnecessary risks. However, once humans are walking on the distant red planet, it will no doubt be worth the wait.