When will the first person be finally able to walk on Mars? I think many of us are waiting for an answer to this question.

In an article published on their official website, the US Space agency said that there are many obstacles to overcome before the first humans could step on Mars. Although they say they can overcome these obstacles, NASA didn't mention the exact date for the launch of the first human mission to Mars. They didn't specify either what the costs of this kind of mission would be. Instead, they argued that it is an achievable mission, but not before 2030.

Charles Bolden, the general administrator of NASA, said in a press release that the space agency has never been so close to sending astronauts to Mars.

He also stressed the importance of cooperation with international partners, but also with the private sector, for the success of this project. The space agency also said that life in space means accepting certain risks, but these risks are worth it.

An extremely hostile living environment for astronauts

A mission to Mars could force astronauts to spend a period of three years in space. The dangers to which they will be exposed during this period are numerous. Cosmic radiation can greatly increase the risk of contracting cancer. The absence of gravity for such a long period of time is also dangerous for the body and can lead to a decrease in bone density and muscle mass and a weakening of the immune system. All these risks are mentioned in the document published by NASA.

The astronauts who will be part of the mission to Mars will also be given new specially designed suits.

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These will look like diving suits but will be adapted to the hostile conditions of space. NASA will also need to create an electric propulsion system based on solar energy.

A three-stage plan to send a human mission to Mars

Placing a vehicle with a human crew to Mars should be done slowly and safely and this would mean a great technical challenge. NASA will have to invent a system that can place a vehicle that weighs several tons on the planet. Most experts in the field consider this to be extremely difficult given that, to date, the heaviest vehicle successfully placed on Mars is the rover Curiosity that weighs a ton.

NASA's same report contains a three-stage plan to address these challenges.

In the first stage the effects of long space missions will be studied. This stage has already begun. Two astronauts will stay for a year aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to study the effects long missions in space have on them. Various technologies important for life in space – such as communications systems and systems to ensure survival – have already been tested on board ISS.

In the second stage the astronauts will be trained for life in distant space. Astronauts who will be part of the human mission to Mars need special training. They will have to live in a habitat located in a remote area. To achieve this, a series of space missions near the moon are scheduled around the year 2020. This is necessary because the first people who will reach Mars need to be more independent than the ISS astronauts.

Another important project to be developed is new propulsion system based on solar energy. This will consist of choosing an asteroid, which will pass by a very close distance to Earth, to be placed in the moon orbit by using robotic probes.

The third and the most important, most difficult and most frightening stage will consist of independent living very far from our planet. All the knowledge accumulated until then should eventually allow the successful placement of the astronauts on the red planet.