Von Braun called for a mission to Mars in 1985, with ten 4,000-ton ships and 70 crewmates. After a months-long cruise, the fleet would have sent a landing party to the Martian ice caps on gliders equipped with skis. These astronauts then would hike 4,000 miles to build a landing strip near the Martian equator for the rest of the ships.The five would-be astronauts in this film contemplate a possible one-way trip to Mars. A private foundation called Mars One plans to send a crew of four to colonize
But keep in mind that when it comes to human missions to Mars, NASA’s “preparation” has already lasted quite a while: the last 70 years straight.
For the past five decades—from the lunar science experiments to the Mars Curiosity and the New Horizons missions—Pu-238 Radioisotope Thermal Generators (RTG) have served as a power source. While some of the NASA’s forays will continue to rely on these RTGs, others will require larger power sources to enable human space and planetary exploration and establish reliable high bandwidth deep-space communications. Solar power cannot handle this goal. A larger nuclear-based power source is required.