A permanent human presence on Mars will be possible by the end of the decade, and by 2100 we can count on a city of millions, says Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, an engineer, and enthusiast of Martian exploration.
The newest U.S. rover, Perseverance, launched from Earth in July 2020, landed on Mars Thursday. With the new rover, NASA hopes to obtain new data on the planet’s geology and structure and collect samples of its soil to send back to Earth. Among Perseverance’s scientific instruments is a device for obtaining oxygen from the Martian atmosphere. Its developers hope that in the future, this technology will be in demand for rocket fuel for manned missions to Mars.
Photos were taken by NASA’s Perseverance Mars mission
Businessman and SpaceX owner Elon Musk previously stated the goal of starting manned missions to Mars as early as 2026, but the expert believes this plan will be adjusted. “It will most likely take until 2030. It is likely that by 2026 or 2028 it will be able to send Starship ships with cargo or robotic missions to Mars and begin automated base construction. Before sending people there, we will need propulsion systems, systems to generate fuel from Martian oxygen and water,” stresses Zubrin, who founded the Mars Society in 1998 as a platform for scientific forums, exchanges, and lobbying for the study and exploration of Mars.
Musk plans to send a million Earthlings to Mars as early as 2050, the expert considers “ambitious.” “But we can send one thousand people by that time, they will create industrial and agricultural opportunities on Mars in order to be able to support the livelihood of more people. The more people who fly to Mars and are born on Mars, the faster we will expand our presence, become a city by 2070, a city of millions or even more by 2100,” Zubrin says.
Speculating on whether Mars exploration will do without human casualties, the expert said: “There will always be the risk of exploration, but nothing great has ever been achieved without courage.” Zubrin concluded the interview with the words of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin – “Let’s go!”
Mars was NASA’s priority during the Barack Obama administration, then under Donald Trump, a course was taken to return humans to the Moon, develop its resources and create a near-lunar station to test technology and capabilities for future missions to distant space, including Mars. The new Joe Biden administration has not yet voiced its priorities in outer space.