NASA’s target to send humans to Mars by 2030 is not going to be met, stated former NASA Astronaut Jerry Ross on Friday. According to plans announced last year, NASA has targeted Mars for a series of manned and unmanned missions by the end of 2030.
“We just don’t know everything we need to know yet. We need to go out and do types of experiments and tests to get to that point. But it’s not going to be a straightforward thing and will take a couple of design cycles before we get to systems that work,” Ross told journalists at a press conference on the sidelines of International Ideas Festival, hosted by Purdue.
“For this, we need to increase budget and work effort on aspects, including nuclear power plants for the moons,” he added.
“However, if we get politicians to support space programmes on a continuum basis, we can do it,” he said. “But the problem in a country such as the United States, which is democratic, is that the leadership changes from time to time. New leaders have a different set of ideas on what’s important,” he said.
“There ought to be some way in which there’s control on logic and the system that allows programmes to be ongoing instead of being interrupted every time when politicians come to power,” he added.
Describing his experience of meeting late Indian astronaut Kalpana Chawla, Ross said she was a delightful person who was liked in the astronaut office.
When asked if Chawla and others could have been saved, he said, “We could have possibly launched another space shuttle immediately but it would have taken time to do it. The question is, we did not know exactly what had gone wrong. Would you be putting another vehicle and another crew at equal risk?”
“There are things we could have done that would have given us more information but was not done, and I think it was because of some people who were in the management structure of NASA,” he said.