26 months later an astronaut crew would leace Earth's orbit and begin it's journey to Mars. The journey would take 4-6 months depending on the propulsion system and the alignment of Earth and Mars. The crew would land near the waiting cargo and ascent vehicle. The crew would spend 18 months on Mars setting up a base and conducting tests. The crew would test ways to use the raw materials on Mars to make useful products, such as fuel, food and oxygen.
At the end of its stay, the crew would pack up collected samples and leave Mars using the propellant produced on the surface to reach orbit. The launch vehicle, delivered before the crew ever left the Earth, would lift the human crew off the Martian surface to the orbiting Earth-return vehicle, which would then bring them home. After a four- to six-month trip back to Earth, the crew would return almost three years after beginning their epic adventure.
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International Space Station
NASA TV schedule