Watch out, Mars! Earthlings are planning to put their boots all over you by 2040 and we might just have the funding to actually do it for a change. Just, please, no demon gates to hell.
The recent State of NASA address revealed its plan to get actual humans back out into the stars and exploring space. This is being backed by a White House budget request of $26 billion in 2023 to help fund various exploration programs.
"Our goal is to apply what we've learned living and operating on the moon and continue then out into the solar system. Our plan is for humans to walk on Mars by 2040," agency administrator Bill Nelson said during the presentation.
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The first step is working towards the Artemis moon missions, which NASA says will see the first woman and person of colour on the moon. From there the plan is to build an Artemis Base Camp to aid in further exploration and research on the moon's surface, as well as an orbiting spaceship Gateway.
In 2024 we should see a crew of astronauts back in orbit, and then another moon landing by 2026 to continue their research. From there, NASA has detailed plans up until about 2027 where further landings are planned as part of the Artemis moon missions in the coming years. This will all likely be done with other partners like SpaceX, and what we learn there will help with NASA's goals to get people on Mars in the next two decades.
The budget will also be allocated to areas that aren't always immediately thought of when it comes to space exploration. While around $822 million is planned for returning soil samples from Mars, and $480 million is dedicated to robot exploration of the moon, $500 million is set to help develop more environmentally sustainable aviation strategies. Some is also probably for flinging spaceships at rocks, because fun isn't just for Kerbals.
Mars exploration is currently being undertaken by robots like the Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity Helicopter. This is giving scientists back here on Earth the chance to do as much research as possible before we get our alien buts out there on another planet. For now, get your space fix by checking out what the Hubble telescope was looking at on your birthday.