NASA launches public challenge for Mars ideas

Proposals should include ways a human presence can sustain itself without input from Earth.
By Andrew McDonald | May 07, 2015
According to a NASA statement, the agency has commenced a new challenge in which members of the public may submit their ideas for items necessary to support a manned mission to Mars, including a permanent human presence.

Proposals will need to describe the technological and economical feasibility of their ideas, and how they would sustain human life with little or now support from Earth. There will be three final awards, each of $5,000. The proposals may cover essentials such as shelter, water, food, air supply, communications, exercise, medicine, and interactions among the crew members. Other inventive notions are encouraged as well.

Each proposal must lay out the assumptions, data, and analysis behind it, and map out a process for development, testing, fabrication, and operation. With at least 500 days between resupply missions, it is vital that any human presence on Mars be independent of Earth's resources. NASA will continue to develop reusable spacecraft and cultivate commercial partnerships.

NASA is deep into the preliminary steps to get humans to the Red Planet. Testing of the Orion crew capsule and heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket is underway. Experiments on the International Space Station are providing data on how the human body is affected by long-duration spaceflight. Mars itself is a hub of activity, with rovers trundling across its surface and probes in orbit.

Says NASA: "By developing new technologies along the way and creating the systems necessary to maintain a permanent human presence in deep space, humanity will pioneer space, pushing out into the solar system to stay."

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