Greg Williams, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for policy and plans in the agency’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, spoke earlier this week at the Humans to Mars Summit in Washington D.C. In this talk, he provided a look at the first two phases of NASA’s plan to send humans to Mars.
The plan now includes the construction of a ‘deep space gateway’ around the moon that will serve as a testing facility for a year long crewed mission around the moon in 2027. It’s also possible, that the surface of the moon could be used as a launching surface to get astronauts to Mars. Before this mission, there will also be five missions to deliver habitat equipment and a deep space transport ship for a launch to the red planet.
Below you can find an infographic that details the plan.
“If we could conduct a yearlong crewed mission on this Deep Space Transport in cislunar space, we believe we will know enough that we could then send this thing, crewed, on a 1,000-day mission to the Mars system and back,”
Deep Space Gateway
The deep space gateway is a miniature space station that would be placed in lunar orbit. It’s set to be one the first missions for the SLS (Space Launch System). “The gateway could move to support robotic or partner missions to the surface of the moon, or to a high lunar orbit to support missions departing from the gateway to other destinations in the solar system,” says William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA.
The phase 2 plan will begin in 2027 where NASA will send a Deep Space Transport vehicle to cislunar space, and then the crew who will live in the habitats delivered in phase 1, which will take place between 2018 and 2026.