Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios
Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the revived National Space Council, wrote today in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that "America will be the first nation to bring mankind to Mars." These plans follow Elon Musk's announcement last week that a small group of astronauts will be ready to leave Earth in 2024 and head to Mars. But is all this possible in just seven years as a continuation of the technological advances we've seen, or are significant science and engineering breakthroughs needed to reach their goals?
We asked three experts what we need to know or solve before humans can attempt to make it to Mars.
- Bobby Braun, aerospace engineer, University of Colorado, Boulder: Mars is within reach
- Francis Cucinotta, radiation researcher, University of Nevada, Las Vegas: There are too many unknown health risks to go to Mars soon
- Kate Greene, writer and former physicist: It's not just rocket science