Writer of "The Martian" thinks humans won't make it to Mars until 2050

But NASA reiterates confidence in 2030s target date.
By Laurel Kornfeld | May 05, 2015
The writer of a popular novel about a human colony on Mars told attendees of the Humans to Mars conference that he does not see humans traveling to Mars until about 2050, twenty years later than NASA's current goal.

Andy Weir, author of The Martian, a book now being made into a movie, told conference attendees at The George Washington University through a Skype presentation that the technology and cost required to put humans on Mars make the project too big a challenge to achieve by the 2030s.

His remarks contradict a statement by NASA administrator Charles Bolden, who only hours earlier reported the space agency is on track to put humans on Mars within twenty years, noting there is an "emerging consensus" on this timeline.

Bolden's remarks were echoed by Scott Hubbard, former director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, who took issue with past claims that landing humans on Mars will cost half a trillion dollars, which he described as "close to bogus."

Ironically, Hubbard cited The Martian, stating "a window of opportunity is opening to establish such a program." Popular culture can play a role in exciting people about sending humans to Mars and generate public support for the program, he emphasized.

Yet Weir, who supports the idea of humans colonizing Mars, believes even 2050 "might be optimistic" as a target date.

"The technology necessary to get there and the costs of getting there are just very high and it's a big challenge," Weir said, noting that at the time of the Apollo moon missions, many people prematurely envisioned humans colonizing Mars by the 1980s.

Regardless of how long it takes, Weir stressed the importance of having a self-sufficient colony on a place other than Earth, so humans will not be solely bound to one planet.

 

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