NASA plans to send humans to the Moon and Mars

World Today

The Trump administration has set out ambitious goals for space exploration. It’s directed the U.S. space agency with taking humans back to the Moon and on to Mars.

NASA plans a manned mission to the lunar orbit by 2023, with the goal of sending humans to the Red Planet 10 years after that.

CGTN’s Steve Mort reports.

Private firms now carry out work once done by NASA such as hauling cargo into orbit. While several commercial space operators have been tasked by the U.S. government with carrying cargo, and eventually astronauts, into low-Earth orbit, the Trump administration says it has substantially loftier goals for NASA.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently toured the facility where NASA’s deep-space Orion capsule is being built.

“We will return American astronauts to the Moon to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond,” VP Pence said.

But plans are yet to be funded. Estimates put the price tag for a manned Mars mission at around 100 billion dollars. NASA will spend about four billion on exploration this year.

“We’ve got big ambitions, but we don’t have the money. This is not going to be the Trump space program. It’s going to have to be Trump plus his successors and that’s the kind of financing and continuity we don’t have,” Roger Handberg from the University of Central Florida said.

Meanwhile, China is moving aggressively on plans for Moon and Mars flights. And several companies have similar goals.

NASA’s next key target is an unmanned orbit around the Moon for Orion in 2019.