Since the Apollo program ended nearly 50 years ago, every newly elected US president has been surrounded by a single question: where is the forward to send astronauts?
NASA’s current target is the moon, but the moon belongs to the previous generation of American pioneers. One programmer, who has more suitable ambitions for the space program, who first lands a human on another heavenly body, is Mars – a destination that NASA has been preparing to reach since the days of its early visionaries. Now the time has come to realize his dream.
The Artemis program for manned spacecraft is the focal point of NASA today. It is intended to keep astronauts on the lunar surface until 2024, but that date is less likely. There is still no well-defined mission plan, and work on Artemis rockets and capsules is behind schedule and budget.
In order to send astronauts to Mars, NASA has somehow abstained from sending astronauts to Mars for several decades, thanks to the priorities of constantly becoming president. Consider the switch-up only since 1988, when George HW Bush was pushed to return to the moon with a mission on Mars to follow. Bill Clinton canceled the lunar plan (say nothing of Mars) and embraced the International Space Station. George W. Bush revived the Moon-Mars sequence. Barack Obama nixed the moon’s part of the program, stating that NASA “did it there,” and instead opted for the asteroid mission and then Mars. Donald Trump disapproved of Mars’ plan to choose instead to reach the moon with Artemis, but NASA still says that Mars is on its agenda.