Tim Peake, Britain’s longest-serving astronaut, forsees mankind landing on Mars by the end of the next decade. Jack Southan reports
Celebrated British Astronaut, Tim Peake, has publicly stated that there are “no insurmountable obstacles” in humanity’s path to stop us walking on the surface of Mars by the end of the next decade.
Peake, who ended a 14-year career with the European Space Agency earlier this year, remains a staunch supporter of human space exploration and states that the only thing holding humanity back from make the next steps in spaceflight is the need to “just get on and do it”, and that the need for private companies such as SpaceX are essential in making it happen.
Speaking at the launch day of his new Channel 5 series Tim Peake: Secrets of Our Universe he says; “There are no hurdles that are insurmountable in going to Mars, we just need to get on and do it. We know exactly how to get there, we know the orbital dynamics and we know how to land on the planet. I reckon we will be on Mars by the late 2030s.”
Last year, NASA decribed an ambitious plan for its first crewed flight destined to land on the surface of Mars, sending two astronauts to the Red planet for 30 days. Before this can happen, NASA seeks to reconquer the moon with its Artemis II mission, which is scheduled to begin in November 2024 and will be humanity’s first trip back to the moon since 1972.
The Artemis missions are reported to be the building blocks in the design, development and testing of new technologies which will be instrumental in taking humans to Mars.
Although NASA will be undertaking the missions, they will be heavily facilitated by Elon Musk’s private space company, SpaceX. Musk is well known to be an advocate of humanity’s need to become an interplanetary species and in fact plans to establish a permanent colony on Mars. He announced on X (formerly Twitter) last year that he believes the first mission to the planet could take off as early as 2029.
Tim Peake has been vocal on his belief that this synergy between public and private space travel is the future of how these missions can succeed, whether it is the moon or Mars: “We need these public private partnerships and, frankly, we cannot get to the moon without SpaceX, which is building the lunar lander,” he says.
Peake continues: “The commercial companies involved in this new era of space exploration are really important. I think you need to draw a line between space tourism versus the companies like SpaceX and Axiom Space which are actually at the forefront of scientific research and space exploration.
In November last year the European Space Agency selected two new astronauts to become part of these future missions. Rosemary Coogan, 32, from Brighton (and the UKs third-ever astronaut) and former British Paralympian John McFall. Both are currently in training and will soon be flying their first mission to the International Space Station.
“The next time we recruit astronauts for the European Space Agency, we’ll know that they will be going to Mars and that raises the question: ‘What kind of person do you need to select who is able to go on a three-year mission to Mars?” says Tim Peake.