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Why go to Mars?

Updated on December 22, 2016

A history of human space exploration

Ever since the beginning of human history we have travelled, no matter how dangerous the journey was we’d still go. Humans are explorers - it’s in our DNA. Whether it was when humans left Africa and colonized the globe or when man went to the moon. There has always been something to explore. But now there is nothing left on Earth, we’ve seen it all already. We needed to travel into space…

  • Humans first travelled into space in 1961 when the Soviet’s sent the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in to space.
  • We first went to another heavenly body in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the first steps on the moon.
  • And when the Apollo Program ended in 1972 we came back down to Earth and all our spaceflight since then has been bound to Low Earth Orbit.
  • Now Mars is the next giant leap for humankind.

The scientific reasons for a trip to Mars

There is much research that could be done if we went to Mars. We could find out if there was or is life on Mars. If this were to be proven, then it would be very likely that life is commonplace throughout the universe and could mean that intelligent life is right on our doorsteps. The answers to some of the questions that humanity has been searching for, ever since the dawn of our existence could be found just a few decades down the line. We could also find out about the past, present and future for Earth. Maybe in the future Earth could too become a desolate wasteland like Mars. The scientific research done on Mars may spark more questions- this could mean a trip somewhere else.

Vostok 1 launch- when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.
Vostok 1 launch- when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space.

Would you go on a one-way trip to Mars?

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The political benefits

The political benefits of a Mission to Mars are great… Because of the scale of the mission, going to Mars would almost certainly have to be an international co-operation. The partnerships and agreements made to make the mission work could also sooth tensions between the US, Russia and China- these tensions are currently almost as high as they were during the cold war. Politicians think that this could be so hopeful that in NASA’s goals for going to Mars it specifically says that it should be an international project. The mission could also help to stimulate the economy because the private sector is likely to pay a vital role in the mission providing supplies, rocketry systems and eventually as the cost of travelling to Mars goes down because of recycling, reusability and more efficient propulsion techniques there could be tickets sold for trips to Mars. Take the Boeing 737 for example. If the Boeing 737 wasn’t reusable your average trip on it would cost around $500,000 per person, however because of reusability, you can buy a trip for around $43. We might not be able to get trips to Mars down to that sort of price but Elon Musk believes that he with reusability he could get a one-way trip down to the price of your average house (around $250,000).

The effects on society

The effects on society would be great for a short period after the news that astronauts have landed on Mars. First and foremost, the astronauts involved would become international celebrities. When they come back from Mars they will be pretty busy at media events across the globe. Also, there will be a great sense of triumph for all of humankind, because as a species we will have come together to achieve something that we have dreamed of for many years: going to Mars will no longer be in the realms of science fiction but in the realms of reality. During the period where the astronauts are on this mission there will be much excitement on Earth, children and adults alike will be inspired by it. Everyone will want to become an astronaut again!

Mission control at NASA when Apollo 11 launched.
Mission control at NASA when Apollo 11 launched. | Source

Overview

Going to Mars will take a lot of hard work and money but I truly believe it would be worth it. If humans can become a multi-planetary species, then if Earth dies Mars will live on. Also, humans are running out of resources- we need to go to space to get more: from asteroids, from planets, from comets even from stars. We will learn many of the techniques for doing this on the road to going to Mars. Also, we will inspire the next generation of astronauts, engineers, mathematicians and scientists who will take us on our steps away from the solar system completely. We could get there in 10 years, it could take 100, but I am certain that humans will go there.

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