The Mars Mission

February 21, 2020 • Volume 30, Issue 8
Can NASA overcome all the challenges?
By Val Ellicott


NASA's Orion (Getty Images/NurPhoto/Paul Hennessy)
NASA's Orion space capsule soars atop a rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., last July. The capsule is a key component of NASA's Artemis program, which aims to land astronauts on the moon in 2024 as a step toward a Mars mission. (Getty Images/NurPhoto/Paul Hennessy)

NASA has its sights set on landing astronauts on Mars in the 2030s, the long-term goal of its Artemis program. As a first step, the space agency is scrambling to meet a White House-imposed deadline of 2024 for returning astronauts to the moon. The Trump administration wants to achieve new space milestones ahead of other countries, including China — but congressional Democrats question whether the 2024 deadline is realistic, especially when NASA's deep-space rocket is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. In addition, some analysts say, China's Mars goals are too far in the future to be competitive with NASA. Private companies such as SpaceX are planning their own Mars missions, even as they work with NASA to solve the technical challenges of deep-space travel, including how to protect astronauts from radiation. Some experts cite such dangers in arguing that exploration of Mars and other planets is best left to robots, but others say human explorers have a unique significance in space exploration.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Space Exploration
Jul. 23, 2021  Space Exploration
Feb. 21, 2020  The Mars Mission
Aug. 04, 2017  New Space Race
Jun. 20, 2014  Search for Life On New Planets
Feb. 24, 2012  Space Program
Aug. 16, 2011  Weapons in Space
Oct. 16, 2009  Human Spaceflight
May 23, 2003  NASA's Future
Jul. 23, 1999  New Challenges in Space
Apr. 25, 1997  Space Program's Future
Dec. 24, 1993  Space Program's Future
Mar. 29, 1991  Uncertain Future for Man in Space
Jul. 31, 1987  Space Race
Feb. 07, 1986  Space Decisions after Challenger
Feb. 18, 1983  American Options in Space
Nov. 10, 1978  Changing U.S. Space Policy
Jul. 04, 1975  Cooperation in Space
Mar. 15, 1972  Space Shuttle Controversy
Oct. 01, 1969  Mission to Mars: Benefits Vs. Costs
Nov. 13, 1968  Goals in Space
Jun. 29, 1966  Future of Space Exploration
May 08, 1963  Moon Race Controversy
Jun. 27, 1962  Peaceful Use of Outer Space
Nov. 01, 1961  Space Exploration
Dec. 09, 1959  National Space Policy
Feb. 19, 1958  Control of Outer Space
Air Safety and Security
Atmospheric Sciences
Biology and Life Sciences
Cold War
Congress Actions
Earth Sciences
General International Relations
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Privatization of Government Functions
Science and Politics
Space Sciences and Exploration