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NASA wants to put people on Mars by the 2030s. Last week, they detailed how that might become a reality.
In a report titled "NASA’s Journey to Mars: Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration," the agency laid out a three-part plan on how it might reach the Red Planet.
"We are on a journey to Mars," read the report. "In the next few decades, NASA will take steps toward establishing a sustainable human presence beyond Earth, not just to visit but to stay."
The first phase involves more research on the International Space Station — especially when it comes to studying the effects of living in space for long periods of time — and further development of its most powerful rocket yet, called the Space Launch System (SLS).
Next, NASA wants to perform a variety of tasks in cislunar space, a fancy name for the area around the moon.
That includes the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which involves sending a solar-electric robotic probe to an asteroid, removing a boulder-sized chunk, and taking that back to cislunar orbit. NASA hopes to bring astronauts out to study the asteroid sample by 2025.
The final part of the plan involves sending astronauts to orbit the Red Planet and possibly landing on one of its moons. Then comes the hardest part: landing human beings on Mars with the equipment to get off the planet's surface and return safely back to Earth.