NASA have revealed that they plan to have human colonies on Mars within the next couple of decades in a new three-stage plan.
Colonising Mars will be the final stage of years of research NASA say, but they do hope to have “Earth Independent” colonies by the 2030s. NASA have detailed the plans in a pretty lengthy pdf file that makes for some very interesting reading.
The first step is ‘Earth Reliant’, which will involve testing technologies and advancing human health on board the International Space Station. Stage two is ‘Proving Ground’, where operations will be held in deep space that allow astronauts to return to earth in a matter of days. The final step is ‘Earth Independence’, where astronauts will conduct operations in martian space, and eventually on the surface of Mars.
The document states that the mission is aiming for:
…a global achievement that marks a transition in humanity’s expansion as we go to Mars not just to visit, but to stay.
They aim to have humans living on Mars within habitats that can support human life with only routine maintenance, while harvesting fuel, water, oxygen and building materials from the red planet.
NASA are looking to answer the fundamental question of human life beyond Earth, whether microbial life has ever existed on the planet, and hopefully to put the human race firmly on the universal map.