It may sound strange but has logic. US space agency NASA has been exploring every possible ways to send humans to Mars in the 2030s but before the mission to the red planet, it has plans to send a manned mission to Moon in 2027.
NASA’s preparations for 2030 Mars mission includes a manned mission to orbit the lunar surface and this purpose the US space agency is developing a “deep-space gateway” around the Moon. This has been done as an effort to test for technology and operations required for NASA’s journey to Mars.
Greg Williams, deputy associate administrator for policy and plans at NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, says the lunar presence will eventually serve as one of the launching points for the spacecraft that will take humans to Mars.
During the Humans to Mars Summit in Washington DC, Williams offered a detailed preview of the first two phases of NASA’s current plan to send humans to the red planet.
Williams said at least five missions, including four crewed, will be followed by the year-long lunar mission which will provide hardware such as a crew habitat.
He said that the Deep Space Transport vehicle would be the last piece of delivered hardware and it would later be used to carry a crew to Mars.
“If we could conduct a yearlong crewed mission on this Deep Space Transport in cislunar space, we believe we will know enough that we could then send this thing, crewed, on a 1,000-day mission to the Mars system and back,” Williams was quoted as saying by the ‘Space.com’.
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Currently, the lunar stages of the plan to take humans to the red planet rely largely on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to send the necessary payloads and crews to cislunar space - the region between Earth and the Moon.