Melbourne: Despite big challenges, man could be sent on a mission to Mars over the next 20 years, NASA and private sector experts have said.
Experts in space exploration, including top officials from the US space agency and Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, will come together and discuss the latest projects at a three-day conference starting on Monday in the US capital.
As revealed in a survey by non-profit group Explore Mars and aerospace giant Boeing, the people of America also want astronauts to be sent to Mars.
The poll in March of more than a thousand people published in March found that 71 per cent of Americans expect that humans will land on Mars by 2033.
The US space agency`s chief Charles Bolden has stressed that "a human mission to Mars is a priority."
But the US financial crisis is a major obstacle to such a project.
G Scott Hubbard of Stanford University has said that it would be possible to land on Mars in 20 years, if we start today.
"It doesn`t require miracles, it requires money and a plan to address the technological engineering challenges," added Hubbard, who served as NASA`s first Mars program director and successfully restructured the entire Mars program in the wake of mission failures.
Hubbard noted that placing a mass of 30-40 tonnes-the amount estimated to be necessary to make a habitat on the red planet-would be one of the greatest challenges, along with the well-known problem of carrying or producing enough fuel to get back.