Manned mission to Mars

The manned flight to Mars is a stated long-term goal of the U.S. space agency NASA, the European Space Agency ESA and the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos.

The first plans for a manned flight to Mars emerged prior to and during the course of the Apollo program of the United States. After the moon landing in 1969 and the end of the Apollo program, the goal was not pursued further.

  • 2.1 Physiology
  • 2.2 Psychology
  • 3.1 Hazards
  • 3.2 Mission Scenario

Planning of individual nations and organizations

In the past repeatedly individual nations or organizations have submitted letters of intent to plan and conduct a manned Mars mission. For the United States, such a mission is a stated long-term goal. The plans of the Russians and the Europeans currently aimed at cooperation among the peoples. China has so far announced no corresponding projects and focuses his plans so far only on the moon - although already seen in the USA, some space experts in a race against the emerging spacefaring nation China.


The European Space Agency ESA sat 2001, the Aurora program, which aims among other things, planning a manned lunar and Mars mission. A landing of astronauts on Mars will be taken for the year 2033 in the eye.


U.S. President George HW Bush presented 1992 new plans for a manned mission to Mars before and instructed NASA to calculate the budget. Given the projected cost of 400 billion U.S. dollars, the approach but was rejected again.

His son, U.S. President George W. Bush, presented in early 2004 before a new, long -term planning for the NASA manned missions to set the focus to the Moon and Mars. A new feature was a cost plan, which provided for the financing of development with phasing out of Shuttle and ISS programs over a period of 30 years.

To implement the objectives, the Constellation space program was launched by NASA. Under this program, a new manned spacecraft to be built in the first step to 2010 with the Orion spacecraft (formerly called the Crew Exploration Vehicle ), with the first astronauts to the moon and later to Mars could fly. Further, it should according to the plans of NASA from 2024 to grow a permanently manned lunar base, which was explicitly designed as a precursor for the flight to Mars.

The European and the U.S. program agree that the landing of humans on Mars is to be prepared on unmanned missions; for this itself is currently but no concrete timetable.

On February 2, 2010 it was announced that the program of the United States has been deleted for a new manned moon due to cuts in the budget. This also explains the development of spacecraft that are needed for the manned flight to Mars delayed.

U.S. President Barack Obama in a speech delivered on 16 April 2010 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida his plans for the American aerospace industry. They provide for:

  • Orion is being designed to be an escape pod.
  • Manned missions to bring in 2025 people behind the moon's orbit and land on an asteroid.
  • People get into the middle of the 2030s in an orbit around Mars, and fly back to Earth.
  • This is followed by a manned landing on Mars.


The Russian Space Agency Roscosmos is planning a manned flight to Mars for the first half of the 21st century. As part of the national space program in 2015, a test simulation on the Earth (Mars -500) was performed.

The lead designer Vitaly Lopota of RKK Energiya announced in early 2010 that was started in Russia with the development of a megawatt nuclear reactor for a new type of spacecraft propulsion. By 2012, the planning as well as computer modeling and simulation to be completed. The development of the nuclear facility should be completed by 2015, the corresponding transport module to 2018. With the implementation of the nuclear reactor was commissioned Rosatom; the engines, compressors, turbines and generators are developed by Roscosmos. The total cost is estimated at more than 17 billion rubles in the budget of 2010 430 million rubles for Rosatom and 70 million rubles for Roskosmos are provided. It is planned that up to 20 times higher specific impulse than chemical rocket engines; the time of flight to Mars could thus be reduced to four to six weeks.


India's President APJ Abdul Kalam met on 26 June 2004 the first Indian to Mars plans by offering the U.S., an American- Indian team to send up to 2050 to Mars, shortly after the U.S. and India closer cooperation in the had agreed to the space sector. Kalam had earlier already responsible for the development of Indian missile programs.

Mars One

Mars One is a private commercial company from the Netherlands, which has set itself the goal of establishing by 2023 a Mars base and let people land on Mars. The mission concept is based on the premise that the participating astronauts return to Earth, so spend the rest of her life on Mars. One wants to Mars from 2013 to recruit a group of 40 astronauts who therefore should form the basis of a Mars colonization. Several international manufacturers in the field of space already expressed interest in Mars One and said to that necessary components for the project are available.

Impact on the astronauts


Cosmic and solar radiation destroy the tissue and in particular the DNA of living organisms. The resulting damage are partly unrecoverable and alter the cells (see Radiation Risk ). Shields reduce radiation dose. A recent study by the Georgetown University reaffirms and generally makes the risk of a particularly fast aging and especially in the area of the colon is a high risk of cancer from. The radiation exposure of an astronaut is higher by orders of magnitude estimated for the case of quiet Sun during a 15 - month stay outside protective magnetic fields to a minimum of 1 Sv, during violent solar flares. Real World Experience with long-term stays in interplanetary space outside the protective magnetic field of the earth has not yet, however, so far; the moon flights NASA were too short to talk even remotely long-term experience. Protection against radiation exposure could provide energy shields that surround the spaceship with a plasma bubble and the crew using shield of their magnetic field.

In addition, the prolonged weightlessness applies during any flight to Mars as the greatest medical problem as it muscles, bones and blood circulation weakens when they are not loaded continuously by gravity or by training.


Some researchers explore the psychological side, especially the inevitable Zusammengepferchtseins confined space always with the same people for months or years without the possibility of evasion, or alternation.

In the selection of participants in the Mars therefore be an even greater extent than now not only their technical and scientific skills, but also their psychological stability and resilience must be considered when crews of space stations such as the ISS. You can not select each participant isolated in itself, but must be put together in such a way that they complement each other in their interpersonal characteristics and compensate each other and will, to the extent foreseeable, nor tolerate each other even after a long time the astronauts.

In the experiment, Mars -500, which ran until the end of 2011, including the dangers possibly emerging boredom were investigated.

Discussion of Technology


In the present state of the art a spaceship would need under optimal conditions about 250 days for the outward journey and the same time for the return flight. Here about a good year stay on the red planet is taken into account until the Mars has arrived on its path back to the perigee. Through this mission duration of about two years, the probability of technical failure of key systems increases approximately by impact of micrometeorites.

The vehicle must be in the case of solar flares occurring again and again have a radiation-proof room, in which the crew can retreat for a few days. During solar flares is also have to expect disturbances particular, computer technology and communication.

Because of the large distance is not possible assistance from Earth. A reversal of the outward flight path can - unlike, say, Apollo 13 - from ground- mechanical reasons even then not be performed if you decided not to do on Mars station.

On Mars, make sand storms, of which we do not yet know exactly how they arise, possibly a risk; lack weather satellites would be the warning time is comparatively short. In addition, other phenomena of the weather on Mars and its soil conditions are not quite see through.

Mission scenario

"Mars Direct" is a mission plan, which was created in 1990 by Robert Zubrin. It is required by the capacity of the Saturn V launch vehicles. Before people are sent towards Mars, launching an unmanned spacecraft, which also includes the spacecraft to return from Earth and lands on Mars. This leads to a small nuclear reactor, the 100 kW of electrical power supplies. 6 tons of earth brought hydrogen, the carbon dioxide of the Martian atmosphere and the electrical energy from the nuclear reactor can be used to produce methane and water ( Sabatier process). The water is electrolytically split and used the hydrogen anew for methane and water production. So from 6 tons of hydrogen and carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere 24 tons of methane and 48 tonnes of oxygen, which are stored at low temperatures than liquids. Additional 36 tons of oxygen to be produced by electrolysis of carbon dioxide. Of the so generated 108 tons of fuel and oxidizing agents 96 tonnes for the return to earth are needed, the rest is used for vehicles on the Martian surface.

Within the next launch window, that is 26 months after the unmanned spacecraft launches the manned spacecraft. Thus, during the six -month journey to Mars no gravity prevails ( an adaptation of the Mars gravity would then time costs), the upper stage of the launch vehicle is attached with a rope to the manned spaceship, puts the system into rotation and imitated Mars gravity. Shortly before landing in the immediate vicinity of the unmanned ship the cable connection is disconnected. The manned spacecraft brings to the habitat in which the astronauts live on the surface of Mars. If the landing too far made ​​on the basis of errors of the original landing site, to the carried vehicle allow the astronauts to overcome a distance of up to 1000 km. After about 1.5 Earth years on the surface of Mars, the astronauts are left with the return waiting spaceship to Mars and return to the earth.

Approximately simultaneously with the start of a manned mission to the next unmanned ship for fuel production will be started so that after the next region of the Martian surface can be explored.

The cost of three such missions is estimated at approximately 50 billion U.S. dollars, far fewer than the 400 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for one has estimated the cost of a manned Mars flight in 1989 by the initiative of U.S. President George HW Bush.

Potential benefits of the mission

Due to the great challenges in the areas of propulsion and the safety systems, life support systems and exobiology research, it is necessary to create new technologies. Therefore, many people expect of a manned flight to Mars boost innovation similar to that which they had in the 1960s to thank the moon landing and the aufwiege the high cost. Moreover, it leads to the field that it is of vital radiance for human civilization, when a man set foot for the first time another planet and thus a possible subsequent colonization prepare the way.