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When will we start populating other planets?




Photo: San Diego Air & Space Museum, CC0 1.0

Human beings will certainly not be living on other planets within the lifetime of anyone alive now – not even a baby born this very day. To date, no human has set foot on another planet; we have only been to the moon. Even a first manned flight to Mars including a successful landing on the planet’s surface would still be far removed from us actually establishing a settlement there. Space experts predict that the first manned flight to Mars could take place in the next 30 to 35 years. We would then have to construct a station on the planet – in a very hostile environment. We would also have to establish a source of water, energy, building materials, etc. That would require a tremendous effort.
Take a look at the most important steps in manned space travel to date: 1961 – the first man in orbit; 1969 – the first man on the moon; 1986 – construction of space station Mir; 1998 – construction of the International Space Station. So we can see that in over 50 years, human beings have only managed to explore Earth’s immediate surroundings. And even in our own planet’s orbit we are still far from realising any fantasies of constructing real settlements. There are no space hotels as yet! The settlement of other planets in the solar system would represent a whole new challenge of an entirely different dimension. So this idea is a fantastically remote possibility. Of course, there are plenty of other planets outside our own solar system. These rotate around far-off stars and we would not be able to reach them within the lifetime of any individual space traveller with the propulsion systems available or even conceivable today.

Henning Krause from the division Communications and Media Relations from the Helmholtz Association answered this question.