A new $1.5 billion funding plan for the Mars Colonial spacecraft has just been released.
The plan, titled the Mars Exploration Plan, outlines how NASA will make its way into the development of the mission and is set to come into effect next year.
It includes a $1 billion budget increase, a $100 million increase in the launch vehicle budget and $1 million for new crew support, including $500,000 to allow for extra space suits for the first crew.
NASA also announced the creation of the Planetary Science Institute (PSI), a nonprofit organization that will work to build on the findings of the Curiosity rover mission and explore what lies beyond.
The plan calls for an initial crew of three, including the rover and a small science team, to be sent to Mars in 2019, followed by three more crew members by 2024.
The mission would then continue for another two years, before returning to Earth.
“Our team is excited about what we are getting ready for,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Robert Lightfoot in a statement.
“We are working closely with the Planetary Society to develop a comprehensive plan for Mars Exploration, including a detailed timeline, budget and timeline for the spacecraft and crew.”
The plan is one of the first steps to getting the mission off the ground.
It also includes a call for public comment on the plan through August 31, 2017, so that a final version can be put into place before the 2020 launch date.
“It is our hope that we can make the Mars mission a reality as soon as possible,” said Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division, in a written statement.
While there are still many details to be worked out about the mission, including its future, the goal is to get the spacecraft into orbit around Mars by the end of 2022, and then return it to Earth in 2025.
The plan also calls for the rover to land on the Red Planet in 2022.
Currently, NASA has a mission that is slated to launch in 2021, called NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Mission.