Connect with us


Why the US can’t send humans to Mars



Earlier this month, NASA announced it was funding a revolutionary high-thrust rocket — called a Pulsed Plasma Rocket — that could make crewed missions to Mars in just two months.

That’s seven months faster than it’d take with current technology and would drastically reduce the risk and cost of a crewed Mars mission, according to Howe Industries, which is developing the concept. It “holds the potential to revolutionize space exploration,” NASA said in a statement.

The PPR is just one of the latest developments in the US’s decades-long discussion to send humans to Mars. In the early ’60s, for example, nuclear-bomb-powered spaceships were proposed for the trip.

Since well before NASA landed the first humans on the moon, the US has poured money and time into proposals for a crewed Mars mission, only to see its attempts never leave the ground. But technology isn’t the only thing standing in the way. Politics also plays a big role.

“That’s kind of like a joke within the space community or the Mars community,” Matthew Shindell, a curator with the National Air and Space Museum, told Business Insider. “Putting humans on Mars is always 20 years away.”

It’s short enough to seem tangible, he said, but long enough that the political situation will change before it can be realized.

To fully understand why the US hasn’t sent humans to Mars, despite sending more robots there than any other country, it just takes a trip down memory lane. Here’s a history of the US’s most promising crewed Martian missions that never were.

Continue Reading