Earlier in June, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said his company will be the first to Mars and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk practically dared him to do it, but one prominent astronaut says none of the companies trying to get to the red planet have the means to do so.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, known best for performing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aboard the International Space Station back in 2013, spoke with Business Insider about the possibility of humans traveling to Mars. He thinks there are multiple issues impeding humans from reaching the red planet, with rockets being one of the key problems.
“Personally, I don’t think any of those three rockets are taking people to Mars,” Hadfield told Business Insider. “I don’t think those are a practical way to send people to Mars because they’re dangerous and it takes too long.”
His reasoning to focus on the rockets is the fuel used to launch them into space. NASA, SpaceX, and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin all use similar fuels that are not powerful or efficient enough to get to Mars. Hadfield also points out how dangerous the mission would be for humans and even suggest robots should be the first to travel to the planet in order to learn more.
While Hadfield doesn’t think space companies have the means to travel to Mars now, he is hopeful that new technologies will make the trip more feasible in the future. He pointed to NASA’s interest in nuclear reactors, ion propulsion, and even other efforts that could try to harness gravity as examples.
If and when humans do make it to Mars, there is a question of how people will be able to survive. A new paper from an international team of researchers showed a certain kind of bacteria that actually burps oxygen could be a key component to creating Mars colonies.