U.S. space agency, Nasa, could land astronauts on the Red Planet by the end of 2030s in a cost-effective and efficient way by using a step-wise approach, according to a latest research.
According to the researchers, the astronauts should first be prepared to touch down on one of Mars' two tiny moons - Phobos or Deimos - to reduce the risks involved and save money.
Space.com has reported that Hoppy Price from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and colleagues have prepared a mission architecture that gets astronauts to Phobos by 2033 then down to Mars by 2039.
First, the astronauts will establish a base on Phobos, a 16-km-long moon that orbits 6,000 km away from the Martian surface. This effort would need four launches of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) - the largest, most powerful rocket booster ever built and set to launch the unmanned Orion spacecraft in 2018.
The first SLS launch in 2029 will take the astronauts to the Mars orbit in less than 4 years. The second SLS launch would carry the Phobos base which could support a crew of four. The third SLS liftoff around 2032 would carry a deep-space habitat to the Earth's orbit and the last SLS takeoff would then send NASA's Orion capsule and a crew of four up to meet this pre-placed gear.
The waiting Phobos Transfer Stage would take the astronauts down to the base, in 2033, where the crew would remain for 300 days. Then, the astronauts would travel back to earth and the Phobos habitat would remain on the Martian moon, awaiting possible use by future crews.
NASA will send a unique Mars lander in March 2016 to explore the planet's deep interior to find clues about how all rocky planets, including the earth, formed and evolved.