Private Mars Missions?
The CubeSats-to-Mars Program

On Nov.12.12

By Vlad Hruby, Chris Carberry | Nov. 12, 2012

We have reached a turning point in space exploration. Private-sector Mars missions — or possibly public-private partnerships — may be viable in the near future. Missions based not on a profit model but on passion for exploration, understanding Mars and advancing the state of the art of space technology could drive private financial resources. This could make private-sector missions a reality by the middle of this decade.

NASA’s significant budgetary cuts in space science will likely slow future Mars missions. In an effort to find innovative ways to re-engage the public and secure public support, NASA’s Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG) recently reviewed over 400 Mars mission proposals. The quality and diversity of proposals presented to MPPG were impressive. A wide range of approaches for robotic exploration of Mars were discussed, including, but not limited to, orbiters, rovers, balloons, airplanes and hoppers. Many of these proposals were highly innovative and efficient in design and cost.

One potential approach to martian exploration is the CubeSats-to-Mars concept proposed by a group of organizations including Busek Co. Inc., Explore Mars Inc., United Launch Alliance LLC, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems LLC and California Polytechnic State University. Unlike other mission concepts, CubeSats-to-Mars would deliver up to 27 3U (three-unit) cubesats to Mars orbit.

Read more: Private Mars Missions? The CubeSats-to-Mars Program- ExploreMars.

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