Real Reason NASA Hasn't Sent Humans To Mars

We could have been on Mars 30 years ago. At the peak of the Apollo era in the early ’70s, NASA was already planning its next step into the unknown.

Its plans included building multiple space stations, continued trips to the Moon, and the first crewed mission to Mars by the 1980s. Can you imagine watching astronauts walk on Mars the same time the walkmen came out?

But NASA never sent humans to Mars in the ’80s. And here we are 30 years later, still dreaming of the possibility. But the reason isn’t necessarily a matter of technology or innovation. It actually comes down to politics.

As a government agency, NASA’s goals are determined by the Executive Branch. Since its inception, NASA has served under 12 presidents. And it was clear near the start that not every president would support NASA equally.

By the end of Nixon’s administration in 1974, NASA’s budget had plummeted from 4% of the federal budget to less than 1%. Fully-funded Apollo missions 18 and 19 were abandoned along with Apollo 20.

At the same time, Nixon pulled NASA’s focus away from the Moon and Mars and instead toward low-Earth orbit. His parting gift was to sign into effect what would eventually become NASA’s Space Shuttle program.

Peter Diamandis: “So what’s happened throughout all of space history after the Apollo program was over was to start, stop, start, stop, cancel. President comes in like Bush comes in to go to the Moon, back to Mars and next president comes in and cancels that. The agency is unable to sustain consistent funding to do anything.”

It wasn’t until the Space Shuttle Program was nearing retirement that a crewed mission to Mars was finally considered and funded by a US president.

George W. Bush, in 2004, announced:

“We will give NASA new focus and vision for future exploration. We will build new ships to carry man forward into the universe to gain a new foothold on the Moon.”

As a result, NASA’s Constellation Program was born. Never heard of it? That’s because it was canceled a few years later. It aimed to send a crewed mission to the Moon in 2020 and land the first humans on Mars by the 2030s.

By the time Obama was sworn in, the Constellation Program was behind schedule and over budget. One year later, Obama canceled 100% of the program’s funding.

“All that has to change. And with the strategy, I’m outlining today it will.” -Barack Obama in 2010.

Obama shifted NASA’s focus from sending people to the Moon and Mars to, ultimately, just Mars. In the process, he asked Congress to increase NASA’s budget by $6 billion over the next 5 years.

As a result, NASA launched its “Journey to Mars” initiative in 2010, with the goal to send humans into orbit around Mars by the early 2030s. And, until recently, NASA was on track, more or less. Then, this happened.

“President Trump has launched the National Space Council and at the council’s inaugural meeting in October, we unanimously approved a recommendation to instruct NASA to return American astronauts to the moon and from there to lay a foundation for a mission to Mars.” -Mike Pence in 2017

Oddly enough, the space policy under Trump and Obama look nearly identical, save for 63 words. In those 63 words, Trump’s administration has shifted the focus once again to a Moon-first, Mars-later initiative. 

NASA isn’t new to this. It’s learned to recycle old projects to fit new missions. For instance, the Orion capsule was first developed for Constellation and has since been redesigned for the Journey to Mars.

But even that can’t prevent the inevitable changes NASA programs now face under the new president.

“We’re also going to realign the organizational structure to best meet this new exploration focus. I’ve asked Stephen Jurczyk the current head of space exploration to lead and effort to design a new organizational approach.” -Robert M. Lightfoot, Jr. in 2018

As NASA pushes on, a new possibility has grown on the horizon. Privately-owned space companies like SpaceX also has its sights set on the red planet.

Diamandis: “The scientists and engineers at NASA are amazing and they’ve done extraordinary things. But they’re risk aversion…That doesn’t allow us to do new and novel things that are on the edge. Doing anything big and bold in space is hard and it’s risky. So, it’s entrepreneurs taking the risks these days, willing to put everything on the line.”

The race for Mars is on. While NASA has closely partnered with SpaceX and other privately-owned space companies in recent years, ultimately, NASA may not be the ones who write the next chapter in human space exploration.

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Author Since: Sep 20, 2018

  1. We will not go to mars. Why haven’t we “gone” to the moon since the 60’s and no we’re trying to go to mars? It’s not funding, nasa has unlimited money and power, they can do whatever they want. I am all for exploration but within reason. Have we really made it past the van allen belts? With all the stuff we’re finding out lately I don’t believe anything nasa says it’s all a lie. The moon is in the atmosphere!

  2. Heard an evil ,morally bankrupt semiretarded enemy of Humanity in a monkey suit from Texas babbling on about "the universe" . …………the devil and "Pop's" are waiting for you "w" don't keep them waiting!.

  3. The actual reason is radiation, hard gamma especially, cosmic rays, etc. Think an all-day tropical sunburn is bad? Try a real sun "burn" that you'd get for months at a time, while even on the inside but including your skin.

  4. Earth was the planet given to humans now we rushing to go to other planets coz we fucked this planet so badly,believe or not doesn’t matter where we go can’t run from the end (death) cos that’s the only truth we have

  5. if i were president i would reform their budget and instead of giving NASA a 2nd of a penny from the gov, id give them 1 dollar , USA needs to upgrade Everything, were moving into a different society

  6. U.S politics has kept this country in the Dark ages for ever. While U.S. Technology is equal to anybody on the Planet. U.S politics won't let it get outta the parking lot. Whole we're to busy funding illegal ppl. An wasting good money on Bull shit issues. The first Flag on Mars may be from China.

  7. We will build a new ships! Lol. Bush gotta be the funniest president we've ever had. These people cheat to get into college, then join party fraternities that help you cheat the ENTIRE way through college, no wonder America is in the state it is! Obama was pretty well educated, and sounded like it. To bad he turned out to be (in my opinion) ANOTHER puppet for the TALL White species, reptilia species, and their offspring that completely created, govern/control and print ALL the money in the world, except for maybe 2 or 3 countries. Everything that has a beginning in this 3rd dimension has an END!!! So their reign will definitely be ENDIN soon, regardless of what their real leader (the chief of GODs opposition)(the leader of the tall white species), tells them. THEM, being repugnant secret organizations, politicians, banking bigs, corporate bigs, intelligence community bigs, and military bigs!