At the National Space Club Florida Committee’s meeting this week, former NASA space shuttle pilot Tony Antonelli revealed that the concept of a ‘Mars base camp’ could be achieved as soon as 2028. As Lockheed Martin showed his intentions to send humans on a three-year trip around Mars.
At the meeting, according to Florida Today Antonelli said: “This is all doable in the next 10 to 12 years, all that we have to do is decide that we’re going to go collectively, together – government, industry, international participation. This is a mission for citizens of Earth, and there’s a role for everyone to play.”
Because of the request from Donald Trump’s administration to NASA to assess the feasibility of sending a crew around the moon with the first flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. May be this concept is the result of the request.
Lockheed Martin first revealed they were joining the space race to Mars back in May, at the 'Humans to Mars' summit in Washington.
According to Antonelli: “the firm is not waiting for ‘some kind of magic’ to reach the goal – instead, the craft would rely on existing technology, putting Orion deep-space capsules on either end of the outpost to carry six astronauts around the red planet.”
Astronauts could perform real-time scientific exploration while orbiting the red planet, firm said. To find the best place for the humans to land they will analyze Martian rock and soil samples on the surface of the planet.
Lockheed Martin hopes to convince the space agency to make this earlier as NASA wants to get to Mars in the 2030s.
The spacecraft will launch in 2018 without a crew, and this will be followed by a manned mission five years later.
Lockheed Martin's chief technologist for civil space exploration Tony Antonelli told Popular Science: “NASA has [orbiting Mars] in their plan, and we're coloring in the details…All of these pieces exist today, they're not brand new. We're taking advantage of what we've already got.”
Lockheed Martin is working on developing the space habitats which would provide both a living space and work space for astronauts.
Lockheed Martin will use Orion as the mission's command-and-control center, equipped to survive 1,000 days.
Bill Pratt, Lockheed's program manager for habitat study said: “Basically, the habitat would be located just far enough away that astronauts couldn't easily turn around and come home when problems arise, That really forces us to operate in a different mindset that's more akin to a long trip to Mars.”
China National Space Administration (CNSA) is also intensive to go to Mars. Wu Weiren, Head Designer of CNSA Lunar and Mars Mission told the BBC that CNSA's goal is to reach Mars by 2021.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, believes it may be possible to send the first humans to Mars within the next 10 to 15 years.