NASA’s chief, Jim Bridenstine, is simply full of bold predictions lately. After pushing the agency’s moon landing goal up to 2024, he now claims that humans will land on Mars by 2035. Oddly enough, the statement comes at a time when NASA is already under Congressional budget scrutiny related to its lofty goals.
According to a Space.com report, Bridenstine said during a recent panel discussion, “If we are accelerating the moon landing, we are accelerating the Mars landing. I suggest we can do it by 2035.”
Realistic Vision or Hopeful Thinking?
Throughout the course of this week (October 21-25), space lovers and government leaders alike are focused on the 70th International Astronautical Congress (IAC). The Washington, D.C. based event involves countless panels and discussions of mankind’s progress in space.
In recent months, NASA has captured a lot of headlines surroundings its many space exploration goals. For one, the Artemis program currently aims to land a man and woman on the moon by 2024. Though the previous target was 2028, the agency moved it up in response to a charge by Vice President Mike Pence to get things moving. While that move draws scrutiny from the House Appropriations Committee, the agency is moving forward with the new timeline.
Pence was also in attendance at the IAC and spoke on several panels alongside Bridenstine. He said, “With Apollo in the history books, the Artemis mission has begun, and we are well on our way to making NASA’s moon-to-Mars mission a reality.”
The Vice President went on to liken the Artemis mission to a stepping stone on humanity’s way to Mars.
Bridenstine backed that claim up by saying, “We need to learn how to live and work in another world. The moon is the best place to prove those capabilities and technologies. The sooner we can achieve that objective, the sooner we can move on to Mars.”
Interestingly enough, NASA’s newest Mars timeline is drawing criticism from someone that knows quite a bit about the workings of space—Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The lunar module pilot thinks that a more realistic target for putting boots on Mars is closer to 2040.
Despite eyeing a different date, Aldrin doesn’t dislike the agency’s ambition. In July, the acclaimed astronaut said he is “disappointed” with the progress of the United States’ space program over the past 50 years. As he was part of one of humanity’s most impactful endeavors this isn’t particularly surprising. After all, launching satellites and ISS modules isn’t nearly as impressive as walking on the moon.
Fortunately, NASA will have plenty of exciting missions to celebrate in the next 50 years of space exploration.