For All Mankind, season 3: when will Mars be colonized?

It is part of the long line of uchronic science fiction series which reuses events from the past by modifying them: the series For All Mankind is back for a third season June 10, 2022. Since its inception, it has reinvented the history of the Cold War, and everything that stems from it, based on real historical facts. But above all, it is distinguished by its striking realism in the description and staging of space missions. At least, for the first two seasons.

But what about the third? The action takes place in the 1990s, more precisely from 1994 to 1996. The competition always makes rage between the United States and the USSR, but this time for a completely different purpose, the Moon having already exhausted its potential: our neighboring Planet, nicknamed the Red Planet, Mars. The authors of the series explain that they were inspired for this season by real projects, in particular for the suits and the spaceships which accompany humans to the Red Planet.

Going to Mars: a project that really dates from the 1990s?

The exploration of Mars is part of the challenges of the space race which fueled the competition between the United States and the USSR until 1975. The idea therefore germinated well before the 1990s, but not to bring humans there. Thus, in 1964, an American space probe Mariner 4 was sent to fly over the Red Planet, from which it succeeded in bringing back several photos. But it will be necessary to wait until 1971 to see a machine land directly on the planet, when the Mars 3 space probe manages to send a lander to Martian soil. However, he only survived a few seconds, before being carried away by a storm Martian dust.

It was only 5 years later, in 1976, that two landers not only managed to set foot on Martian soil, but above all to stay there! As part of the American Viking program, the two machines explored the surface of the Red Planet in order to detect possible traces of life there, and made it possible to map 97% of the planet! In total, “nearly forty missions have been launched to Mars and more than half of them have ended in failure”describes the ESA.

Colonization of Mars: technically much more complicated than the Moon

There followed after the missions of the 1970s, twenty years without Mars exploration, except for a few more or less unsuccessful attempts, such as Phobos and Mars observe. During this period, manned missions are imagined, and more advanced programs to determine whether or not life is on Mars. Because this one, during its beginnings, would have hosted conditions similar to those of the Earth, on which life appeared very early: liquid water would have flowed there 4 billion years ago, and this, for 1.3 billion years! Thus, scientists believe that life could have emerged, without necessarily surviving afterwards.

Currently, the Red Planet is very hostile for any form of life: theatmosphere has become more refined over time due to the cessation of its dynamo effectinvolving the gradual loss of its magnetic field and then letting the solar winds sweep through its atmosphere. It does not protect against cosmic raysand does not allow to keep the heat brought by the Sun. Thus, it is a climate cold accompanied by a desert landscape that awaits any explorer who ventures to the surface of Mars. But that doesn’t stop space agencies from planning such feats.

Without counting the time: indeed, where the missions Apollo lasted on average about ten days, for Mars, it is something else. just one go to the red planet takes between 6 and 9 months. Hence the need for an astronomical amount ofoxygen and food, not to mention fuel, taking into account the containment of astronautseffects ofweightlessness in the long term…, so many brakes which add up to the complexity of a landing on the Red Planet. Because the latter, unlike the Moon, has a gravity non-zero, about 37% of that of the Earth, making any maneuver more dangerous.

Finally, it will not be before the end of the decade, and even then…

We are therefore still a long way from a real manned mission to Mars. But if, on this point, For All Mankind diverges from reality, the scenario is nevertheless illustrated by winkseye that it is difficult not to perceive. In particular the addition of the private company Helios Aerospace, which adds to the competition between the USSR and the USA. Impossible not to see a reference to Elon Musk and his company Space X, and, in general, to the privatization of space exploration. A curious coincidence is added to this unmissable reference: the space hotel Polaris in For all Mankind gate the same name as the private space program announced in February 2022 by Space X and Jared Isaacman, which should have at least three missions. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the company, the Space X company has also declared that it would travel to Mars long before NASAand Gwynne Shotwell, President and Director of SpaceXto announce on CNBC that SpaceX “would precede the Nasa at least a decade to land astronauts on Mars!

Indeed, Elon Musk intends to bring humans to Mars at the end of the decade, although nothing is technologically ready. While Nasa does not intend to go there before the decade 2030, or even 2040. Because the first step, according to the American space agency, consists in establishing a base on the Moon, and in studying the effects on the body of a long-term stay in space: this is the purpose of the Artemis programwhich aims to send humans to the Moon in 2025. It will thus serve as a test for future martian missionsand the Starship, future launcher which, according to Space X, will take on board the future colonizers of Mars, will prove itself there.

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