Horizon Goal

A Planetary Society series on NASA's Journey to Mars

NASA’s "horizon goal"—a term popularized by the National Research Council in 2014—is Mars. The space agency is building a giant rocket called the Space Launch System and a crew capsule called Orion with the goal of carrying humans there in the 2030s.

NASA serves at the behest of the government’s executive branch, with oversight by Congress. At the time of this series, the United States was on the brink of its first presidential transition in eight years. What was the status of the world’s largest human spaceflight program? How did the current plan come to be, and where will could it have gone from there?

In 2016, The Planetary Society embarked on a multi-part, multi-state reporting series with the Huffington Post to find answers to NASA's horizon goals.

Horizon Goal: A new reporting series on NASA’s Journey to Mars

We're embarking on a multi-part series with the Huffington Post about the world's largest human spaceflight program. In part 1, we look at how the Columbia accident prompted NASA and the George W. Bush administration to create a new vision for space exploration.

‘Apollo on steroids’: The rise and fall of NASA’s Constellation moon program

In part 2 of our series on the evolution of NASA's Journey to Mars, Michael Griffin gives the Constellation moon program a new look in an attempt to shorten America's International Space Station access gap after the space shuttles retire. But by 2009, the program is behind schedule and over budget.

Space in transition: How Obama's White House charted a new course for NASA

Our Horizon Goal series on NASA's human spaceflight program continues with part 3, in which newly elected President Barack Obama and his transition team search for a NASA administrator, commission a review of the Constellation program and decide whether to extend the life of the ISS.

To Mars, with a monster rocket: How politicians and engineers created NASA's Space Launch System

NASA is building a giant rocket called the Space Launch System to send humans to Mars. In part 4 of our Horizon Goal series, we recap the messy tangle of politics and engineering that led to the vehicle's creation in 2011.

The flexible path to Mars: SLS, Orion and NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission

Since 2011, a once-in-a-generation transformation has been sweeping through NASA's human spaceflight centers in preparation for the era of SLS and Orion. How have the programs fared, and what first steps is NASA taking as it prepares for the journey to Mars?

Lunar orbit beckons: NASA’s next four years of human spaceflight

Our six-part Horizon Goal series concludes with a look at the future of NASA's human spaceflight program. As NASA prepares to set up shop beyond low-Earth orbit for the first time since 1972, are changes coming for the agency's Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule?

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Five things we learned from our #RocketRoadTrip

We're back from our #RocketRoadTrip through four states with NASA field centers involved in the agency's Journey to Mars program. We'll be sorting through our material for quite some time, but meanwhile, here are five key things we learned.