London: NASA chief Charles Bolden, who is planning to land humans on the red planet by 2030, has said that a manned mission to Mars is necessary for our "species to survive."
To achieve this stellar ambition, Bolden, head of the US space programme and a veteran space shuttle pilot, outlined a series of `stepping stones` to Mars that include `lassoing` an asteroid and bringing it into the Moon`s orbit by 2015, growing plants in space and using 3D printers for onboard repairs.
These steps in advance of a three-year return trip to the red planet would not only bring scientists new samples from outer space but would provide a valuable testing ground for key technologies necessary for manned missions .
Speaking at the Humans to Mars summit, Bolden told The Times that if our species is to survive indefinitely we need to become a multi-planet species. That we need to go to Mars, and Mars is a stepping stone to other solar systems.
Bolden also revealed more projects under development. These included NASA`s Solar Electric Propulsion System - an Ion thruster that uses beams of electrically-charged atoms to navigate in deep space - and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which is billed as the next generation of spacecrafts that will be used for future trips to the Moon and Mars.