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A Look Back at the Trials and Tribulations of the First Manned Mission to Mars

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Essay title: A Look Back at the Trials and Tribulations of the First Manned Mission to Mars

25 Years Since Touchdown: A Look Back at the Trials and Tribulations of the First Manned Mission to Mars

To many of us, it seems like only yesterday that Astronaut Geoff Hewitt, leader of the space shuttle Enterprise, became the first human ever to step foot upon the surface of Mars. The words spoken upon touchdown still ring in the ears of many “The bounds of human ingenuity continue to prove themselves limitless, and boy did we sock it to those Russians who said they could beat us here!” The occasion was one of great awe and inspiration to people all over the world, but particularly to Americans. When later questioned by the media, Mr. Hewitt relinquished all the acclaim he received instead crediting his college Professor Matt Kuharic who, “inspired him to reach for the stars (pun intended)!” Let’s take a look back, on its 25th anniversary, at the famed mission to Mars and examine the events leading up to it that made the historic voyage possible.

At the turn of the 21st century, many questions remained unanswered about the practicality of a manned trip to Mars. Many thought it too expensive or dangerous to even pursue, while others argued that a human presence on Mars was little more valuable than the rovers and data collectors we already had in place. However, in the year 2008, President William Shatner took the oath of office and in his state of the union, rededicated America to space exploration. America’s space program was sure to ‘live long and prosper’ as Shatner allocated a nearly limitless budget for NASA that led to countless advancement in space technology leading up to the historic launch on July 23rd of 2022.

It soon became clear that for a mission to be successful, NASA would have to find a propulsion system capable of drastically reducing the time it would take to reach Mars’ atmosphere. Scientists toyed with many potential prototype propulsion systems before eventually settling with an External Pulsed Plasma Propulsion Rocket, that was largely developed in project Orion back in the 1970’s. The shuttle was conventionally launched and powered outside the earth’s atmosphere before the rocket, mounted on the bottom of the shuttle, was engaged. Consisting of a nuclear reactor attached several hundred feet behind the space shuttle, the rocket utilized a system of pulsating nuclear explosions to allow much higher peak combustion temperatures than the 3000k temperature the core of the reactor was limited to under continuous detonation while still

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