London: NASA chief Charles Bolden, who is planning to land humans on the red planet by 2030, has said that a manned mission to Mars is necessary for our “species to survive.”
To achieve this stellar ambition, Bolden, head of the US space programme and a veteran space shuttle pilot, outlined a series of ‘stepping stones’ to Mars that include ‘lassoing’ an asteroid and bringing it into the Moon’s orbit by 2015, growing plants in space and using 3D printers for onboard repairs.
These steps in advance of a three-year return trip to the red planet would not only bring scientists new samples from outer space but would provide a valuable testing ground for key technologies necessary for manned missions .
Speaking at the Humans to Mars summit, Bolden told The Times that if our species is to survive indefinitely we need to become a multi-planet species. That we need to go to Mars, and Mars is a stepping stone to other solar systems.
Bolden also revealed more projects under development. These included NASA’s Solar Electric Propulsion System – an Ion thruster that uses beams of electrically-charged atoms to navigate in deep space – and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which is billed as the next generation of spacecrafts that will be used for future trips to the Moon and Mars.