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Race to the Red Planet: Mars 2033

I’m really passionate about space. A lot of the reason I got a degree in physics is due to a childhood passion for the cosmos. I wanted to be an astronaut more than anything as a child. To be able to see the vast expanse of the universe and do research that would change the world? That’s the dream for me. Unfortunately, I have a bad knee and have terrible vision, and astronauts have to be in prime physical condition. So instead, I find the wonders of the universe in physics.

Space travel has become more and more prominent in recent years due to its integration into the private sector via organizations like Space X, who also strive to make reusable rockets, instead of our current unsustainable single use rockets. But what does this mean for NASA? And what does it mean for those of us who hope to go to space but aren’t astronauts? Private sector organizations show the world that anyone can go to space if they have the money, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a good idea.

Funding has just been granted to NASA for a program that intends to launch a manned mission to Mars in 2033, which seems like a long way off, but is a huge step in space exploration, and will even effect the way we live life on Earth. Some of the most revolutionary leaps in technology and medicine have been products of the space program. Research happens at the International Space Station each and every day,  a worldwide collaboration in discovery. They aren’t the only ones headed to the Red Planet though. The private organization Mars One intends to make a permanent colony on Mars along the same timeline NASA has for its manned mission, but this plan seems overly ambitious and unrealistic.

The main differences between these private organizations and NASA are funding, accessibility to civilians, and rules about what we are allowed to do on the Martian surface. Where Mars One and even Space X want to colonize on Mars (though with very different methods), NASA wants to explore the surface, gaining scientific knowledge with minimal disruption to the planet’s surface. The NASA Office of Planetary Protection strives to make sure that we do not harm the places we explore.

I have all the hope in the world for future space travel. The biggest thing holding the human race back from getting people to Mars is due to money, because space travel is really expensive. There is much to be gained from space travel, but only by working together on an international scale will we have the skills we need to truly discover the secrets of the universe.

What do you want the future of space travel to be? Should humans live on Mars?