My following article below was originally published by SERIOUS WONDER:
NASA is rising above its shadows and taking aim for Mars. Yesterday, NASA officials announced they’d completed a review of the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift exploration rocket and has approved it for development. This is the first exploration class vehicle to be approved since the development of space shuttles, in which the agency’s Space Shuttle program officially ended in August of 2011.
The SLS is a heavy-lift, exploration class rocket which attains anywhere from a 70-metric-ton to 130-metric-ton lift capacity. It is scheduled for a flight test no later than November of 2018, to which will be equipped with the 70-metric-ton lift capacity that’ll help carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft beyond Earth’s orbit. Future plans with its 130-metric-ton lift capacity will also be developed for larger exploration scenarios, from asteroids to Mars.
“We are on a journey of scientific and human exploration that leads to Mars. And we’re firmly committed to building the launch vehicle and other supporting systems that will take us on that journey.” – NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
The estimated cost of such a project, as outlined in NASA’s review known as Key Decision Point C, would be around $7.021 billion. This covers all the way to its first launch date by November of 2018. NASA officials appear cautiously optimistic for the SLS project. As we all should be.
Traveling and colonizing Mars is the dream of this century. Every major space organization have their sights aimed for Mars – from NASA to SpaceX, the ESA to Mars One. The question is no longer if we’re going to Mars, but rather when we’re going to Mars? Given the newly launched space race, there is a real chance of reaching and colonizing Mars in just over a decade. The question I propose is: Are we ready to become a spacefaring species – a species mixed, not between borders or religions but, between Earthlings and Martians?
“By refocusing our space program on Mars for America’s future, we can restore the sense of wonder and adventure in space exploration that we knew in the summer of 1969. We won the moon race; now it’s time for us to live and work on Mars, first on its moons and then on its surface.” – Buzz Aldrin