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Traveling to Mars
Exploring Mars
Image above: Exploring Mars

Traveling to Mars isn't a new idea. We've done it for 25 years using robotic rovers. What is new is getting humans to land on Mars. Mars is farther than any other space travel by humans to date. The current Space Shuttle isn't built to travel this far. NASA is working on new ways to get us to Mars.

Supplies need to be sent to the planet. It is not practical to load everything on one ship. Researchers expect it to take up to six to eight trips.

The planet has to be made ready for humans when they land. A habitat module would be sent ahead of the crew to be ready for them when they land on Mars. Sometimes several launched vehicles would meet in space to combine and become one big unit. This unit will combine supplies and continue on to Mars.

The main command module will not land on the planet. It will orbit around the planet. A transit vehicle will send the astronauts down to the planet. The larger command vehicle would provide transportation for the long journey back to Earth.

There is not a definite landing date set for Mars. Scientists are hoping to leave Earth around 2016, land on Mars around 2018, and, finally, return to Earth around 2020. It took 4 days to reach the Moon. A trip to Mars will take about 180 days. We're not ready for a trip to Mars yet. We are headed in that direction.

Published by NASAexplores