Getting astronauts to Mars won't be easy. It'll require new technology that doesn't yet exist, and plenty of it. Luckily, there's a lot of innovation happening in space today that could turn science fiction into reality.
Here are six technologies that NASA is developing to make the trip happen.
To reduce the amount of time astronauts spend away from Earth, NASA is working on new systems that will allow them to reach Mars more quickly. That means lighter-weight rockets, as well as innovative methods for reusing fuel and landing heavy spacecraft.
We've landed rovers on Mars that are about the size of a car, but to get humans there we'll need bigger spacecraft. That will mean better protection for those vehicles as they enter the Martian atmosphere, and that will require new methods of keeping astronauts safe and comfortable while on their way to and from Mars.
The largest human spacecraft we've ever flown has been the International Space Station, and if we want to go further than that we'll need even larger vehicles. That will require new ways to keep those vehicles in space, and that will involve developing technologies for constructing large habitats with the ability to expand once they're in space.
The most challenging part of reaching Mars will be staying in touch with Mission Control, and that will require a much more powerful communication system than what we currently use on Earth. NASA is focusing on the development of deep space optical communications, and that's an area where corporations at the intersection of big tech and NewSpace are also putting their weight behind.