Visions of the Future of Human Spaceflight

Strange New Worlds

Disney Enterprises, Inc./Walden Media, LLC

While humans have sent probes to the Moon, Mars and other planets in our solar system, still more remains to be discovered. Exactly what lies under the icy crust of Jupiter's moon Europa and the dust strewn surface of Mars? Future probes (like this vision of a 'hotbot' to melt through Europa's ice) could answer those questions and more.

Living Off the 'Land'

NASA/Pat Rawlings

Unlike missions to Earth orbit, where a return trip home is only a day away, long-duration manned flights to the Moon, Mars or points beyond will put astronauts far beyond reach of their native planet. To survive, explorers will have haul vital supplies with them, build greenhouses, solar power farms and drill for ice among other major hurdles to ensure their survival.

Private Moon Bases Planned

Bigelow Aerospace

Space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow (left) discusses layout plans of the company's lunar base with Eric Haakonstad, one of the Bigelow Aerospace lead engineers.

The First Human Martians

NASA/John Frassanito and Associates

In order to live and work on Mars, astronauts will have to work hand in hand with robotic helpers and support teams on Earth to build habitats and explore their new world. But they'll always have time for a quick snapshot to send back to Earth.

Red Planet Bound

NASA/John Frassanito and Associates

Mars: The red planet remains a distant target for humanity's reach even as a flotilla of probes now study its dusty surface. In the decades to come — possibly by 2040, according to some — astronauts may finally step onto the red planet and extend mankind's reach outward from Earth.

The Universe Awaits

NASA/Glenn Research Center

Engineers around the globe aim to develop new propulsion systems that could open up the cosmos to exploration.

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