Originally Posted by Donger
Yeah, considering that we can't even fly to the ISS right now, I don't see it happening either.
Depends. The first step was to test a landing scenario like this. The next step would to see if they can send something that can actually get back into the atmosphere and return.
Here's my take.
To reach Mars, it would require a voyage of months. Thus, the humans onboard would need living quarters capable of sustaining life (oxygen, water, food, waste disposal, exercise, communication, health care). Since you'd want a minimum of two travelers for redundancy and support, you'd need double the stuff. Now, most spacecraft are only designed for temporary living, but as technology increases and we turn "storage" into "sustainability", it's feasible. The spacecraft would have to have a seperate landing/return vehicle much like the moon trips did. And this ship would be so large and complex that it probably couldn't be built and launched in one piece from Earth; they'd probably have to launch it in stages and assemble it in space, like the ISS, and then when ready give it a "push" out of orbit either by external rockets brought into orbit or by the ship's engines which would be fueled by a transport rocket.
This all sounds very complex, but we've already done a lot of the footwork for this, not only in our space missions but in our undersea missions. What's a nuclear submarine, really, except the difference is that it functions in water and not in zero-gravity? The propulsion system would be a bit different but we're still talking about encapsulated and sustained life (and you hopefully wouldn't need the torpedoes and missiles in space... yet).