Space program should focus on Mars, says editor of New Space

December 7, 2017, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc
Credit: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

The U.S. space exploration program should continue to focus on robotic sample recovery and human missions to Mars, says Scott Hubbard, Editor-in-Chief of New Space. He details the benefits and risks of this strategy in an editorial entitled "Keeping the Focus on Mars," published in New Space.

Scott Hubbard, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University and former director of NASA's Ames Research Center, recounts the past four Administrations' commitments to exploration, beginning with President Kennedy's promise in 1961 to send a man to the moon and return him safely—the only initiative that has been successfully funded and completed. In October 2017, Vice President Pence proposed that NASA should plan "human missions to the moon" as a "stepping stone" for subsequent human missions to Mars. In the current editorial, Professor Hubbard presents possible ways to offset the large cost of space exploration, including international partnerships, and he discusses what makes Mars such a compelling scientific target.

"I strongly advocate completing the Mars Sample Return," says Professor Hubbard. "That initiative alone will show continued U.S. leadership and perhaps provide answers to the most fundamental questions humans ask: 'Are we alone?' I also believe that any future human exploration plan must keep moving toward Mars."

Explore further: New plan proposed to send humans to Mars

More information: Scott Hubbard, Keeping the Focus on Mars, New Space (2017). DOI: 10.1089/space.2017.29012.gsh

Related Stories

New plan proposed to send humans to Mars

June 29, 2015

A new, cost-constrained U.S. strategy to send humans on Mars, could be achieved within projected NASA budgets by minimizing new developments and relying mainly on already available or planned NASA assets. This approach is ...

NASA budget will axe Mars deal with Europe: scientists

February 10, 2012

US President Barack Obama's budget proposal to be submitted next week for 2013 will cut NASA's budget by 20 percent and eliminate a major partnership with Europe on Mars exploration, scientists said Thursday.

Another chance to put your name on Mars

October 4, 2017

When it lands on Mars in November of 2018, NASA's InSight lander will be carrying several science instruments—along with hundreds of thousands of names from members of the public.

OPINION: Why we need a human mission to Mars

June 16, 2017

If we want to know whether there is life beyond Earth then the quickest way to answer that question is to explore Mars. That exploration is currently being done by remote space probes sent from Earth.

Recommended for you

New space industry emerges: on-orbit servicing

November 17, 2018

Imagine an airport where thousands of planes, empty of fuel, are left abandoned on the tarmac. That is what has been happening for decades with satellites that circle the Earth.

SpaceX gets nod to put 12,000 satellites in orbit

November 16, 2018

SpaceX got the green light this week from US authorities to put a constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites into orbit in order to boost cheap, wireless internet access by the 2020s.

Electric blue thrusters propelling BepiColombo to Mercury

November 16, 2018

In mid-December, twin discs will begin glowing blue on the underside of a minibus-sized spacecraft in deep space. At that moment Europe and Japan's BepiColombo mission will have just come a crucial step closer to Mercury.

Overflowing crater lakes carved canyons across Mars

November 16, 2018

Today, most of the water on Mars is locked away in frozen ice caps. But billions of years ago it flowed freely across the surface, forming rushing rivers that emptied into craters, forming lakes and seas. New research led ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.