A manned mission to Mars has the best chance of success with global co-operation and funding, a company deeply involved in the planning says.
Lockheed Martin has outlined its latest work in developing a Mars base camp, which will remain in orbit around the red planet and allow its crew of six to travel to and from the surface and even to the two moons of Mars to explore and conduct experiments.
But program strategist Rob Chambers says it’s likely the world’s space agencies will need to collaborate, along with the private sector, to turn the current concepts into reality.
Mr Chambers says global collaboration could also accelerate plans for a mission, potentially making it possible in about 10 years.
“That will allow us a much more rich experience as we voyage out to the moon and out to Mars,” he told reporters at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide on Friday.
“The implementation is so much easier when it’s a team sport.
“The human race is bigger than a single country and a single company because you’ve got that combined skill and will.
“In the end it has to be an ‘and’ proposition.”
Lockheed Martin’s bold plans involve testing its base camp concept in orbit around the moon as NASA establishes what has become known as the Deep Space Gateway.
There, the company will prove its technology before embarking on the three-year mission.
Among its latest work is the design of a Mars lander – a single-stage spacecraft designed to ferry astronauts between the orbiting base camp and the planet’s surface and also to allow exploration of its two moons, Phobos and Deimos.
Lockheed Martin says at no other time in history has there been both the know-how and the public excitement to get humans to Mars.
“Mars base camp is about more than humanity’s greatest adventure, it’s about science,” Mr Chambers said.
“Answering fundamental questions that scientists have been asking for hundreds of years.
“Where did we come from, where are we going and are we alone?”