About five years ago, Stephen Hawking, a.k.a. the smartest man in the known Universe, warned in an interview, “[Humanity’s] only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward looking on planet Earth but to spread out into space.” Fortunately, it seems that people are finally beginning to heed Hawking’s dire predictions. As a private space industry gets on its feet and Hollywood stokes the fires of space-age wanderlust, people are once again looking to the stars to preserve humanity’s future. First, though, we’ll have to get past a big, red hurdle that’s standing between us and the rest of the galaxy. It’s time to get to Mars and we have to do it quickly. Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain covered a lot, but there are still plenty of questions surrounding our first manned trip to Mars. Thankfully, people with big brains are working to solve the problems and get us up there. Here are some things to know about a trip to Mars.
1. Our Grand History In Space
That’s way too big-sounding for what humanity has actually done in terms of our space program. To date, we’ve set foot on truly foreign soil a grand total of twelve times. Every one of those people were white, male Americans (just for the record). Beyond that, NASA’s biggest accomplishments include sending lots of video cameras and a go kart into space. Not for lack of know-how or enthusiasm, but for lack of funding. In other words, it’s one heck of a leap from what we’ve got right now in front of us to getting a permanent settlement on Mars. That doesn’t mean scientists won’t try, but it’s going to be a seriously difficult maneuver to execute.