When Eric Trump said during Tuesday night’s RNC “and soon under my father’s leadership, it will send Americans to Mars,” I burst out laughing because of how ridiculously absurd of a claim it is. I’m not even joking. I literally burst out laughing.
For starters, the last time a human set foot on the Moon was December 14, 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission. We haven’t gone back since then. To think we’re gonna leapfrog the Moon in the next four years and send humans to Mars in and of itself seems far-fetched to say the least.
Secondly, there’s the dangers and risks of sending humans to Mars. We’re not even sure if it can be done. And if it is to be done, we’ll first start by going back to the Moon and experimenting with having astronauts live on the Moon for extended periods of time. Starting with maybe a month long mission, then two months, and then finally three months, which is the estimated amount of time astronauts are expected to stay on Mars if such a mission were ever to be pulled off.
The major challenge on this front is having enough food, water, clothes, and oxygen such that survival is possible. Then, there is the question of what prolonged time in space has on the human body. The Apollo missions to the Moon were 2-3 weeks at the very longest. The longest time a human has been in space is 437 days and 18 hours (Valeri Polyakov aboard the Mir space station from January 8, 1994 to March 22, 1995). In the case of Polyakov, he was in a station that hovered close above the Earth. That's not the same thing as being on the Moon or Mars for over a year. Before we send humans to Mars, we must first get a real understanding of what several months in space does to the human body. Especially on the Moon first.
As a matter of fact, a manned mission to Mars would require astronauts to spend close to two years in space. Nine months going to Mars, three months on Mars, and nine months going back. The reason for three months on Mars is because you can’t launch to Mars and then launch back to Earth whenever you feel like it. You need to make sure the planets are aligned in the right way. 21 months in space is a long, long time for a human to be in space. Without sound knowledge on how that would affect the human body and doing clinical trials on prolonged Moon missions, a manned mission to Mars during a second Trump term or a first Biden term, would be irresponsible.
So, in case you furrowed your brow about Americans going to Mars in a second Trump term, your suspicions are more than warranted. They would be right. A manned mission to Mars will not happen in the next four years and based on my estimations, we’re probably at least a decade away if not more from such a mission. If such a mission is ever even attempted.