The mission to Mars is underway, but NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine says humans could have been to Mars already if not for “political risks.”
Technological capabilities is a big challenge that NASA is constantly working to overcome, but the NASA official reveals that there have been other obstacles that have been standing in the way of humans and Mars.
In an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation, Bridenstine said that not only is there a technical risk in venturing out onto space, but scientists also have to contend with the political risk involved. If not for these issues, the head of NASA said that the team would have been back to the moon.
“We would be on Mars, quite frankly, by now had it not been for the political risk,” Bridenstine said, adding that funding is also constantly an issue for the missions of the space agency.
He revealed that NASA have been making efforts to reach both the moon and Mars in the 1990s and in the early 2000s. However, the programs ended up to be too long and too expensive in both cases.
To decrease the political risks involved in NASA’s missions, the president reportedly told them that they want to be faster in accomplishing their goals, specifically telling them that they want to get to the moon within five years. Following the vice president’s message at the National Space Council reiterating the five-year goal, the administration amended the president’s budget request to provide NASA with the necessary resources to make their missions to Mars and the moon a reality.
NASA’s Artemis mission is focused on getting back to the lunar surface in hopes of establishing a permanent human base on the moon by 2028 and creating an easier path to Mars.
President Donald Trump has his eyes set on Mars, recently calling out NASA on Twitter for talking about their efforts to return to the moon. According to the president, the space agency should be focused on the journey to Mars, which he adds the moon is part of.
Bridenstine explained that he had a conversation with President Trump after the tweet, assuring that NASA and the administration are still aligned in their goals. Fortunately, they’re still absolutely in alignment, according to the NASA chief who said that the president told him that he knew NASA has to go to the moon before getting to Mars.
“But he said, ‘What is that generational achievement that will inspire all of Americans? It’s putting an American flag on Mars,'” Bridenstine said, explaining that the president reminded him to stay committed to this goal.