Why Has NASA Not Gone to Mars with Humans Already?

  1. The tech to keep people alive BOTH ways is still being developed. Some problems are similar to ones we’ve solved when sending folks to the Moon but MANY are different.
  2. It’s crazy expensive to solve these problems and it takes time. You can’t throw twice as much money at some of these problems and expect them to be solved in half the time.

All of the breakthroughs that make such a complex mission possible require iteration, some require failure, and many will require serendipity. You can’t just say, “Because NASA spent around $100 billion (in adjusted numbers) to get to the Moon it should cost the same to go to Mars.” I’m not saying it has to be as expensive or more so, I’m saying it’s a different voyage altogether. Imagine I asked you to plan your trip to a secluded island based on how you went camping at a nearby mountain. Though similar, you’d probably need a different vehicle to get there and maybe different food, right? Think of how the cost would change based on who you wanted to take with you and how long you wanted to stay.

Now imagine that secluded island is over 33.9 million miles away and that you might experience over 1000 times more radiation than normal while you travel there. See how the trip can get complicated and expensive really quick?

My hope is that we all realize it’s in our best interests as a civilization to work together to make a trip to Mars possible. Let’s share the load, share the hope, and reap the rewards together.

There are others working on this Mars problem, some with the intention of seeing it through to the end while others may be doing it for notoriety or media coverage. I ask that you not be cynical but instead practice critical thinking when reading about humans on Mars.

Thanks to Cariann Higginbotham for sharing this article. The debate with MIT doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t plan a trip to the Red Planet, it just means we need to be realistic and truthful about what we know about such a journey.

Image: Mosaic of the Valles Marineris hemisphere of Mars Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Dennis "Fox" Bonilla has been a user experience designer, software developer, and digital strategist collaborating with some of the most successful and high-tech organizations in the world. Fox is a co-founder and the Chief Technology Officer at Baltu Technologies where he is helping create next generation workforce development tools. Fox started Unified Pop Theory with his friends in attempt to bookmark and comment on novel intersections of technology, science, and the arts. Fox is a trend finder and idea maker who is inspired by individuals that believe the world can be changed one great project at a time. Fox can be reached on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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