The Trace Gas Orbiter and the Schiaparelli lander are about to reach Mars

The ExoMars mission is a joint venture between the European Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency. The mission is to figure out if Mars had life or has life. The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) will take orbit around Mars, which will take about a year, and in 2018, by analyzing the gases in the Mars atmosphere, it will gather data to find any signs of life. It will look for compounds such as methane, which indicates biological activity.

The Schiaparelli will be landing on the Red Planet. Its mission is to demonstrate that the ESA and Roscosmos have the technology that is necessary to safely land hardware on Mars. The next step would be to send a rover in 2021 on a mission to explore the surface and look for signs of biological life.

At 9 am ET, the TGO will ignite its main engine to slow down and the orbiter will move into Mars’ gravity. The TGO’s engine will burn for two and a half hours and during that time, Sciaparelli will move towards Mars and start its descent around 10:42 am ET all the while sending back data to the TGO. A few days after landing the Orbiter may shut down, since it does not have a way to generate its own power.

Mars Mission receives funding from Senate

Members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed a bipartisan bill that authorizes $19.5 billion in an effort to pursue a mission to Mars and sending astronauts to the International Space Station using private rockets.

Under the Senate bill, a mission to mars would be the first ever to be required by law. The measure has been sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz, Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio, Roger Wicker, Gary Peters, and Tom Udall. Around $4.5 billion will be for exploration, $5.4 billion for science, and $5 billion for space operations.

the $19.5 billion is authorized for fiscal 2017 under the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016. The Obama administration has proposed spending $19 on NASA. The money would allow NASA to work on the Space Launch System, the Orion multipurpose vehicle, development of space suits for Mars, upgrade the space station for use through 2028, improve opportunities for the private sector, and a scheduled 2018 unmanned trip to mars with a manned mission by 2021.

NASA aims for development of habitat modules for deep space use

NASA recently spent $65 million to begin preparing and testing deep-space habitats that may be used on Mars.

As a part of the NEXTStep program, under NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems, the money was awarded to 6 companies for development and testing. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada, Orbital ATK, NanoRacks, and Bigelow are all working on their own development of habitats.

Currently the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module was recently attached to the International Space Station (ISS) and the company has plan to develop a larger model, which they call the Expandable Bigelow Advanced Station Enhancement (XBASE). Currently the smaller version is being tested on the ISS.

NanoRacks project recently was adapted or use outside the ISS. NanoRacks, wants to convert the final rocket stage with its fuel compartment into a habitable space. Currently they are working with Space Systems Loral and the United Launch Alliance.

There aren’t any exact figures or dates that were made available, however, we can safely say that NASA is trying to come back and in a big way. If the habitat modules are developed and are ready to use we might see bases on the Moon as well as Mars, well that’s just the start.