The first manned space mission to the asteroid belt can be carried out within 50 years. However, only if people reach Mars by 2038. This is the conclusion reached by Jonathan Jiang from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Research Center in Pasadena. The work of his team was to determine the time frame during which the first crewed mission to the asteroid belt, to Jupiter and even to Saturn would take place.
They started by looking at how NASA’s budget has increased since its formation in 1958. They identified several peaks corresponding to a significant increase in costs. The first was in 1966, when the Apollo program was allocated a budget comparable to 1% of the gross national product of the United States. Then there was 1991, when NASA decided to work with the private sector to develop a replacement for space shuttles. In 2018, the agency launched the Artemis program to return people to the Moon and then send them to Mars. In general, the common trend is a steady linear growth, says Jiang.
Human’s visit to the asteroid belt, Jupiter and Saturn
The last factor that the team uses is the effective radius of human activity outside the Earth. It rapidly increased at the dawn of the space age from low Earth orbit to the first successful landing on the Moon at a distance of 0.0026 astronomical units. The Artemis project will send people to Mars around 2037, when the radius of human activity will increase to 0.3763 au.
Taking into account all these trends allowed the team to create a model that predicts when human missions to distant parts of the Solar System will take place. This model is designed for 2073 for a manned mission to the asteroid belt, for 2103 for people visiting Jupiter and its moons, and for 2132 for a mission to Saturn.
Of course, predictions of this kind are overshadowed by uncertainty. Some factors, such as global cataclysms, epidemics or wars, can dramatically slow down progress and postpone missions for years.
According to Astronomy
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