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Getting to Mars: What It’ll Take

Getting to Mars: What It’ll Take

Join us as we take a closer look at the next steps in our journey to the Red Planet:

The journey to Mars crosses three thresholds, each with increasing challenges as humans move farther from Earth. We’re managing these challenges by developing and demonstrating capabilities in incremental steps:

Earth Reliant


Earth Reliant exploration is focused on research aboard the International Space Station. From this world-class microgravity laboratory, we are testing technologies and advancing human health and performance research that will enable deep space, long duration missions.

On the space station, we are advancing human health and behavioral research for Mars-class missions. We are pushing the state-of-the-art life support systems, printing 3-D parts and analyzing material handling techniques.

Proving Ground


In the Proving Ground, we will learn to conduct complex operations in a deep space environment that allows crews to return to Earth in a matter of days. Primarily operating in cislunar space (the volume of space around the moon). We will advance and validate the capabilities required for humans to live and work at distances much farther away from our home planet…such as at Mars.

Earth Independent


Earth Independent activities build on what we learn on the space station and in deep space to enable human missions to the Mars vicinity, possibly to low-Mars orbit or one of the Martian moons, and eventually the Martian surface. Future Mars missions will represent a collaborative effort between us and our partners.


Did you know….that through our robotic missions, we have already been on and around Mars for 40 years! Taking nearly every opportunity to send orbiters, landers and rovers with increasingly complex experiments and sensing systems. These orbiters and rovers have returned vital data about the Martian environment, helping us understand what challenges we may face and resources we may encounter.


Through the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), we will demonstrate an advanced solar electric propulsion capability that will be a critical component of our journey to Mars. ARM will also provide an unprecedented opportunity for us to validate new spacewalk and sample handling techniques as astronauts investigate several tons of an asteroid boulder.

Living and working in space require accepting risks – and the journey to Mars is worth the risks. A new and powerful space transportation system is key to the journey, but we will also need to learn new ways of operating in space.

We Need You!


In the future, Mars will need all kinds of explorers, farmers, surveyors, teachers…but most of all YOU! As we overcome the challenges associated with traveling to deep space, we will still need the next generation of explorers to join us on this journey. Come with us on the journey to Mars as we explore with robots and send humans there one day.

Join us as we go behind-the-scenes:

We’re offering a behind-the-scenes look Thursday, Aug. 18 at our journey to Mars. Join us for the following events:

Journey to Mars Televised Event at 9:30 a.m. EDT
Join in as we host a conversation about the numerous efforts enabling exploration of the Red Planet. Use #askNASA to ask your questions! Tune in HERE.

Facebook Live at 1:30 p.m. EDT
Join in as we showcase the work and exhibits at our Michoud Assembly Facility. Participate HERE.

Hot Fire Test of an RS-25 Engine at 6 p.m. EDT
The 7.5-minute test is part of a series of tests designed to put the upgraded former space shuttle engines through the rigorous temperature and pressure conditions they will experience during a launch. Watch HERE.  

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