Composites in the Martian suit
When humans do finally travel to Mars, they will have to be well protected from a less-than-hospitable environment. The suit designed to do the job is already in development at NASA, and it relies heavily on composites.
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The race to send humans to Mars has begun. In late September 2016, Elon Musk announced that he and SpaceX (Hawthorne, CA, US) are working on plans to make human travel to Mars not just feasible, but (relatively) affordable. Musk thinks he can get the cost of travel to the Red Planet down to a meager US$200,000 per person, and he believes there could be millions of people living on Mars by 2060.
Competitor Boeing’s (Chicago, IL, US) CEO Dennis Muilenburg presented in early October his vision for an entire commercial space travel industry, replete with a variety of destinations in Earth orbit and new supersonic jets whisking travelers between continents in just a few hours. Capping it off, he asserted, “I’m convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket.”
Indeed, NASA is eager for its partners to help the space agency put people on Mars as soon as the 2030s. This effort will start in 2018 with a series of missions designed to test propulsion, spacecraft and, eventually, human performance at increasing distances from Earth, culminating in what NASA calls Earth Independence.