NASA have revealed that part of their plan to send humans to Mars includes a year long orbit around the moon.
The agency’s deputy associate administrator spoke at the Humans to Mars Summit in Washington D.C. today and provided details of the first two phases of the mission, Space reports.
The plan includes building a ‘deep space gateway’ around the moon to serve as a testing ground, power source, crew habitat, and airlock for visiting vehicles, all of which should take place between 2018 and 2026.
If all goes to plan, then phase two will be launched in 2027 meaning NASA will send a Deep Space Transport vehicle followed by a crew who will live in cislunar habitat for a year.
NASA has previously asked six private corporations to design a space vehicle as part of the NextSTEP program, including Boeing.
Manned missions to Mars are predicted to happen as early as 2030, taking off from the moon.
Such a huge mission to put Earth on the universal map doesn’t come cheap, and Pascal Lee, director of the NASA-funded Mars Institute, said it could cost $1 trillion over 25 years.
Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, believes NASA should handover its International Space Station activities to the private sector because the non-profit company can’t afford it.