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First manned expedition may fly to Mars in 2040-2050 — Russia’s space institute

November 22, 2016, 13:36 UTC+3 MOSCOW
A Martian spacecraft needs nuclear-powered rocket engines to develop great speed and this requires new developments and considerable financial costs
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A sloping hillside on Mount Sharp as pictured by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover

A sloping hillside on Mount Sharp as pictured by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover

© EPA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

MOSCOW, November 22. /TASS/. The first manned expedition may fly to Mars as part of international cooperation in 2040-2050, Head of the Space Gamma-Spectroscopy Laboratory of Russia’s Space Research Institute, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Igor Mitrofanov told TASS on Tuesday.

"A manned expedition to Mars is not an easy task. In my estimate, technically we’ll be able to implement it approximately in 2040-2050. This Martian expedition will most probably be performed on the basis of consolidated international efforts," he said.

The space vehicles that can be made today do not have the required speed for such a mission, the researcher said.

"A flight to Mars aboard a modern spacecraft must continue for quite a long time, for about half a year and the radiation doze received by the crew may considerably exceed permissible levels," the scientist said. At the same time, it is irrational to create a big spaceship with powerful radiation protection. Instead of this, it is simply necessary to fly to the Red Planet quicker, within weeks rather than months, he noted.

"In case of a quick flight, it is possible to choose the period of the relatively calm Sun [the basic source of radiation] while the accumulated doze from galactic space rays will be quite permissible," he explained.

However, a Martian spacecraft needs nuclear-powered rocket engines to develop great speed and this requires new developments and considerable financial costs, Mitrofanov said.

Also, infrastructure should be prepared on Mars before the arrival of the expedition, including a manned module with radiation protection in the form of at least a meter-thick soil layer, he added. Scientists are planning to test the elements of a future Martian expedition within the framework of Russia’s manned lunar program, which is expected to be carried out after 2030.

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