SpaceX founder Elon Musk says travel to Mars is within reach, and even plans to have one million people living on Mars within the next century. SpaceX isn’t the only space corporation working toward reaching Mars, however. In fact, there are quite a number of missions — both manned and unmanned — currently planned or under proposal from government space organizations and private space flight companies across the globe.
Exploration of Mars and eventual human travel to it are not new concepts. While manned missions have remained financial and logistical near-impossibilities, unmanned missions began in 1960. There have been 55 Mars missions so far, though of those only 26 were successful (that makes 29 failures to some degree). Across the Martian surface, no less than 13 human-made robots and probes currently reside, with two rovers currently operational, while in the skies, 13 more human-made objects orbit Mars, of which five satellites are operating. That means there is a total of seven currently-operating machines occupying Mars.
Both China and Russia have announced similar plans to send humans to Mars, though further details beyond the rough mission windows of 2040 and 2060 have been announced.
- Everything you need to know about the SpaceX BFR project
- Buzz Aldrin’s solar backpack will get you ready for a mission to Mars
- Engineers want to 3D print stuff in space using recycled astronaut poop
- The Opportunity rover just celebrated 5,000 ‘sols’ on the Martian surface
- NASA’s InSight lander passes its final tests, ready for the trip to Mars