Remember when going to Mars was just an ambitious sci-fi dream? Well, not anymore! With the news in 2011 of SpaceX sending humans to Mars within 10 to 20 years, according to an interview with its CEO in the Wall Street Journal, Elon Musk says his company will send people to space within three years, and he wants to colonize other planets next. Along with developing several successful heavy-lift rockets for cargo, SpaceX aims to send astronauts to space for NASA and other clients. The company won a $75 million contract from NASA to make its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon space capsule ready for humans. Boeing, Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin also won contracts to build capsules.
Explore Mars, a non-profit corporation committed to advancing the will for human exploration on the reddish planet that is fourth from the sun, has teamed up with a Global communications firm, Philips & Company. Announced on February 11, 2013 was the preliminary findings of a nationwide survey of American citizens. The poll was focused on people’ s opinion about the exploration on Mars. Explore Mars was created to advance the goal of sending humans to Mars within the next two decades. To further that goal, Explore Mars conducts programs and technical challenges to stimulate the development and/or improvement of technologies that will make human Mars missions more efficient and feasible. Philips & Company on the other hand is a household name familiar to almost everybody. It is a global communications firm that helps companies, government agencies and non-profits create, defend and sustain leadership positions through public relations and business development. With a focus on space technology, homeland security, mobile computing, telecommunications, healthcare, education and energy.
With the success of the Mars Curiosity rover landing, the survey was conducted to measure attitudes and levels of support toward robotic and human exploration of the planet. Here’s some optimistic and pessimistic news from the result of the poll conducted: a percentage of 71 American citizens are confident that humans will be going to the planet Mars in 20 years or precisely 2033. When told that there are currently two operational NASA rovers on Mars, 67 percent of respondents agreed the U.S. should send both humans and robots to Mars. The pessimistic side of the news: American respondents of 67 percent believe that NASA gets way more of the federal budget than it really does. A spending of 2.4 percent of the federal budget is believed. In reality, the Administration’s request for NASA for FY2013 was $17.7 billion representing approximately 0.5 percent of the federal budget. With the facts presented, 75 percent of Americans said that they strongly believe that a percentage of one should be increased on NASA’s budget in the federal budget to fund the anticipated mission to Mars. People think the biggest barrier to getting to Mars is affordability–73 percent said that–while 67 percent think politics are a major hurdle. Technological capability and motivation aren’t seen as major obstacles.
“Despite difficult economic times, the American people are still inspired by space exploration and are committed to human exploration of Mars. This is a wakeup call to our leaders that Americans are still explorers.” ” said Chris Carberry, Executive Director of Explore Mars, in a statement.
Why go to Mars? What are the major reasons for the planned feat of human exploration of the planet? According to the majority of Americans the three main reasons are
1.) To achieve a greater understanding of Mars
2.) To search for life
3.) To maintain U.S. leadership in commercial, scientific and national defense applications.
The poll questioned 1,101 people between February 4 and February 6. It will be a few weeks until we can see the full polling data, which will explain how the answers break down across demographics. It will also be interesting to see how these questions were phrased. But still, it’s good to know people think we can do it. Now to find more funds for it.