The “Martian” is one of the best films of the science fiction genre of recent years, and when you watch it, you might really get the impression that flying to Mars and supporting the life of people on Mars is a fairly simple task. In reality, everything is somewhat more complicated.
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At the moment, humanity has no technology to send a person to Mars and return him back. Thousands of the most diverse technologies must be created to make this possible.
Most people are not quite sure what technology is. In the minds of many people, technology is almost the same as science, but in fact, technology is more about engineering.
No country in the world has a rocket that can send a spaceship large enough to go to Mars.
Some missiles that are likely to be able to cope with this task are currently under development:
Space Launch System (first flight in 2020), SpaceX Starship (first flight in 2022) in the USA;
Changzheng-9 in China (first flight no earlier than 2028);
Yenisei and Don in Russia (first flights no earlier than 2028 and 2029, respectively)
As for now, there is no lander capable of safely delivering people from Mars orbit to its surface. Mars, unlike, for example, the Moon, has an atmosphere. At the same time, the atmosphere of Mars is not dense enough to slow down, as the spacecraft entering the Earth’s atmosphere do. But it is not sparse enough to be ignored.
Space agencies, sending rovers to Mars, come up with various intricate landing schemes.
In the movie “The Martian,” astronaut Mark Watney lives in a beautiful multi-room spacious residential module. At the moment, there is nothing like this suitable for Martian conditions.
The residential module should provide sufficient protection against radiation, an extremely rarefied Martian atmosphere, prevent Martian sand and dust from entering the module, maintain a temperature inside, etc. Not to mention the fact that this residential module must be delivered to Mars and lowered to its surface.
Nowadays, there are several models of Martian residential modules that are being tested in the Gobi Desert, on the slopes of Hawaiian volcanoes, in the Arizona desert, etc. but none of them is ready for practical use in Martian conditions.
There is no rocket that could lift people from Mars and deliver them to the orbit of Mars in order to ensure a return to Earth.
Due to the fact that the attraction of Mars is much weaker than the attraction of the Earth, as well as the fact that the atmosphere of Mars is much more rarefied, such a rocket will obviously be much smaller than Earth’s rockets to deliver people to orbit.
There is currently no spaceship that could support the life of astronauts for many months on the way to Mars and back without periodic replenishment of food, water, oxygen, etc. from the earth.
The movie “Martian” used a huge spaceship, apparently assembled in orbit, cruising like a ferry between Mars and Earth. To date, we have no experience in the creation and use of such ships, and although the experience of building the ISS and the future near-moon base will certainly become extremely useful, humanity does not have the technology to build such a ship.
This is just the small tip of a huge iceberg of technologies that need not only to be developed but also to conduct numerous tests and checks, develop protocols and procedures for their use, etc. Moreover, even the development of the technologies mentioned above will require tens and hundreds of thousands of unique and complex engineering solutions.