Episode 65 of SfS — Mars by 2040? Why Must We Wait? — is Now Live!

Matt Williams
2 min readFeb 9, 2024
Lockheed Martin

This week was a bit of a treat for me because it allowed me to talk about something that has been unfolding over at NASA for many years. As a science communicator, I have been privileged enough to watch it unfold and have had the opportunity to comment along the way. I am referring to NASA’s long-held plans for sending crewed missions to Mars in the next decade and the many decades’ worth of planning that went into it.

Since 2010, the plan has been to send missions back to the Moon in this decade, build habitats and other infrastructure there, and use it as a testing ground to prepare for Mars. The next step was to send the first crewed mission in 2033, followed by additional missions every 26 months (coinciding with Mars being at its closest to Earth). While there have been doubts for years that NASA could accomplish this goal in that timeline, it was announced this past summer that 2033 won’t happen.

While a flyby mission could occur that year, a crewed mission where astronauts land on the surface is not likely to happen until 2040 — and that would be an ambitious goal. Meanwhile, China is still hoping to make it there by 2033, and SpaceX wants to land there even sooner. But they aren’t in any position to promise that right now since they are dealing with similar challenges and delays. Check out the episode below to learn more about how we got here and what’s likely to follow:

Where to Listen:


Originally published at http://storiesbywilliams.com on February 9, 2024.



Matt Williams

Space/astronomy journalist for Universe Today, SF author, and all around family man!