NASA Looking Toward Manned Mission To Mars 'Sometime In The 2030s'

The agency first wants to learn various lessons by sending humans back to the moon.

First the moon, and then the world! ... Just not our world.

On CBS’ “Face The Nation” Sunday, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Steve Clarke said the space agency is looking to get humans to Mars sometime in the 2030s.

But first, he said, the agency needs to train and refine techniques for Mars by having humans go back to the moon in about 10 years.

NASA is currently focused on its latest Mars probe, InSight, which is scheduled to touch down on the planet’s surface Monday.

“We continue to perfect landing techniques using robotic landers on Mars,” Clarke said. ”And certainly we’re going to be using that technology to develop landers to return to the moon with humans first.”

Such moon expeditions, Clarke said, will not only give NASA a chance to “learn our lessons” on a non-Earth body, but it is also far closer than Mars. The moon is a very manageable three days travel from Earth. Mars? About nine months.

The first human exploration of Mars will come “after we’ve established our presence on the moon on a more permanent basis than we have in the past,” he said.

The last time NASA sent humans to the moon was 1972, so the trip is probably long overdue.

“For the moon, we’d like to return humans in the late 2020s,” Clarke said. “And we’re looking to take humans to Mars sometime in the 2030s.”