'Grow plants. 3D print parts. Lasso an asteroid.' Nasa outlines 'stepping stones' to get to Mars

Nasa say a manned mission to Mars can be accomplished in the 2030s

Nasa has outlined a three-step plan to launch a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s, with the space agency’s chief Charles Bolden describing such a mission as necessary for “this species is to survive indefinitely”.

Mr Bolden, a former test pilot who has flown four shuttle missions into space including the deployment of the Hubble telescope in 1990, was speaking at the ‘Humans to Mars Summit’ when he outlined the “stepping stones” that would take Nasa to the Red Planet.

“If this species is to survive indefinitely we need to become a multi-planet species, we need to go to Mars, and Mars is a stepping stone to other solar systems,” the Times reported Mr Bolden as saying.

The first of these steps is to “lasso” an asteroid by 2015 and bring it into the Moon’s orbit. This mission would not only bring scientists new samples from outer space but would provide a valuable testing ground for key technologies necessary for manned missions.

These include the deployment of Nasa’s Solar Electric Propulsion System – an Ion thruster that use beams of electrically charged atoms or molecules to create a low, but precise, amount of thrust necessary for navigating a manned mission in deep space. 

Other steps outlined by Nasa include developing the technologies that would allow for self-reliant spacecraft, including the use of 3D printers to manufacture parts for repairs and finding methods to grow vegetables in space to create sustainable food supplies.

However, as well the technical challenges Mr Bolden also highlighted the need for increased funding from the US government. Nasa’s 2015 budget is currently requesting one per cent less than the 2014 request but $600 million more than the agency received in 2014. Mr Bolden said “with some increases in Nasa’ budget, we’re gonna be able to get to Mars in the 2030s”.

The Nasa chief also revealed more missions about the agency’s under-development Orion spacecraft, which is being designed to ferry astronauts into deep space.

“Orion is finishing preparation for a heat shield test in December, and in New Orleans we're beginning to manufacture flight hardware for the heavy lift rocket necessary for Mars missionsm,” wrote Mr Bolden in an op-ed accompanying his speech.

"It is important to remember that NASA sent humans to the moon by setting a goal that seemed beyond reach. In that same spirit, the agency has made a human mission to Mars the centerpiece of its next big leap into the unknown.”

Read more: Nasa reveal their plan to capture an asteroid
Nasa wants you to choose its next spacesuit for Mars
'Flying saucer' Mars lander to be tested in Hawaii
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: £20000 - £25000 per annum + c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a number ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Sales Consultant - OTE £45,000

£15000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you want to work for an exci...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food