The journey to Mars hopes to answer many questions; Is Mars' formation and evolution comparable to Earth? What does the recent discovery of water sources mean? And is there or was there life on Mars – see what Neil de Grasse Tyson has to say on this.
Six NASA recruits have begun a year-long simulation of life on Mars.
Orion will be the first spacecraft built for astronauts venturing into deep space since the Apollo missions of the 1960’s and 70s.
2020s Pre-Mission Tests:
Earlier missions will test the riskiest elements of Orion leaving earth and returning home ahead of the Mars mission. These include:
• New technologies, like Solar Electric Propulsion, will help NASA send heavy cargo to Mars in advance of human missions.
• The jettison of Orion’s launch abort system. This will ensure the safety of carrying astronauts on future missions if a problem were to arise on the launch pad or during ascent to space.
• The separation of the Orion crew module from its service module ahead of its re-entry of Earth’s atmosphere.
• The endurance of Orion’s heat shield and handling the radiation environment in the Van Allen Belt.
• Evaluating the procedures and tools used to recover Orion from the ocean after it touches down about 600 miles southwest of San Diego and is transported back to shore.
Test Destination #1:
Cis-lunar Space: (the area around our moon) will be used for testing human exploration such as advanced spacewalking suits, navigation using gravity, and protecting astronauts from radiation and extreme temperatures.
Test Destination #2:
The Asteroid Redirect Mission: A crew aboard Orion will set out in 2020 to explore and change the orbit of an asteroid.
Final Mars Departure:
NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida scheduled for 2030s.