BENGALURU: While space scientists even in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have taken cognizance of the need of private sector participation in realising inter-planetary missions, former NASA rocket scientist Anita Sengupta adds to that thought by saying that having humans on Mars would require collaborations beyond national borders. “Humans on Mars by 2030 is possible only through international collaborations -- if governments around the world get together with their space agencies, along with the private sector,” she said on Thursday, during a discussion with scientists, following the scheduled crewed-Falcon 9 launch that was rescheduled due to weather conditions.
As for who would reside in these colonies, Sengupta said those who visit and inhabit a colony on either Mars or the moon should be representative of the demographics of planet Earth – people from across the globe and obviously both men and women. In the backdrop of the NASA-SpaceX collaboration, which is a paradigm shift in the way government and private space players interact, Sengupta recognised the dichotomy of mindsets -- a scientific motive versus one that involves profit. While the first would try to answer scientific questions such as the nature of the universe and the solar system, the second would seek to make money out of putting assets into space -- be it telecommunications or sending people for space tourism or establishing colonies, she explained.
However, the profit motive, she said, often drives you to be cost efficient. “At the end of the day, the biggest challenge is being able to find the funding. Hence, its a good paradigm shift,” she added. To the cue that India took from the United States by opening ISRO’s test facilities to private players, she said governments should provide funding and facilitate innovation. In the 2020 decade, ‘space’ will become the new ‘boom’, she added.