In no uncertain terms, NASA chief Charles Bolden set the stage for a manned mission to Mars as imperative to species survival, stating at a recent summit in Washington, D. C., that the space agency's mission, planned to take place before 2030, was "necessary if the human race is to survive."
Yahoo News reported April 23 that Bolden told those at the summit that getting to Mars and colonizing the Red Planet is a must for humanity. "If this species is to survive indefinitely we need to become a multiplanet species; we need to go to Mars, and Mars is a stepping stone to other solar systems."
Given the recent revelation by the B612 Foundation, which released a video of major asteroid strikes upon the Earth since 2000 (there have been 26), the fact that the human race is still extant has been attributed to what amounts to cosmic "blind luck." As is commonly known, meteors breach the Earth's atmosphere all the time, some exploding in mid-air while others descend and impact the Earth's surface. Luckily, most explode and/or impact in desolate regions or in one of the world's oceans. The Chelyabinsk Meteor that detonated over the large Russian city was one of the exceptions. Its break-up released energy equal to that of 40 Hiroshima-sized atomic bomb blasts.
The B612 Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to safeguard the Earth from killer asteroids. They have plans to put an asteroid detection satellite in space by 2018.
With extinction as simple as a meteor strike away, the colonization of other worlds in our solar system could be the answer to humanity's continued survival.
Bolden's plan to get humans to Mars includes the lassoing of an asteroid and bringing it into orbit around the moon. He noted in an earlier session of the summit that such a procedure would be the first step in providing a testing ground for an eventual manned mission to Mars.
According to Bolden, the captive asteroid could be a proving area for new technologies, testing mission parameters, and experimenting with scientific advances that have yet to be proven. NASA could then use the information and advances to make the next bold leap -- a Mars mission.
Of course, Bolden doesn't lack for critics, especially in Congress. Many don't understand why Bolden's proving ground couldn't just as well be the moon itself. And why not a direct trip to Mars, skipping the asteroid step altogether?
Bolden believes that first manned mission to Mars could be possible by the 2030s. And it could be done, he said, with small increases to NASA's budget.