Arizona And Sonora Partner For Space Missions

Artist's concept of astronaut working on Mars. NASA wants to send humans to Mars 15 to 20 years from now. And the training might start in the Sonora desert.
Image courtesy of NASA
January 04, 2018

Some astronauts, like Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard, went to the Mexican state of Sonora decades ago to train before their space missions.

Now, researchers from both sides of the border think it’s time to revisit the area with a new mission: build human settlements on the Moon and Mars.

Forty-five years ago, NASA used part of the Sonora desert in Mexico to prepare expeditions to the Moon. And today, a new venture to Mars might just start there.

“It’s a nice area, very interesting, beautiful landscape, but very rough,” said Mario Arreola, director of outreach at the Mexican Space Agency, describing “Los Pinacates," a volcanic area at the Sonoran desert.

Arreola explained that the first human settlements in the Moon or Mars will have to be built underground, under very similar conditions.

The Mexican and American space agencies, the University of Sonora and Arizona State University are currently exploring the area and working on the agreement.

"This will also strengthen the relationship between the two states,” Arreola said.

The Mexican Space Agency also hopes to attract private companies interested in space exploration, like Tesla.