It has been more than five decades since Neil Armstrong and the crew of the Apollo 11 became the first humans to land on the Moon. With Mars being one of our closest neighbors, it is natural to wonder if after all this time we have managed to land on the red planet.

So, have humans landed on Mars?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. No human has landed on Mars yet. After the Apollo program concluded in 1972 with the Apollo 17 mission, the manned space exploration efforts of the USA and every other country have been limited. As a matter of fact, we haven’t even gone back to the Moon, which is almost 900 times closer to Earth than Mars.

You might have heard about programs by SpaceX, NASA, and even China to put a person on Mars, but none of those are a reality yet.

Who has landed on Mars?

At the time of writing this article, only robotic Mars rovers and unmanned spacecraft have landed on Mars. Eight missions to Mars that included rovers have been successful.

Out of the 8 rovers, 5 have been sent by the United States, two by the Soviet Union, and one by China.

Mars is going to play a huge role for humans in our journey to begin exploring space and eventually become a multi-planetary civilization. It is by far the best planet in the Solar system to try and colonize. Mercury is too close to the Sun and doesn’t have an atmosphere. Venus is too hot and Toxic. And the rest of the planets don’t even have a solid surface. Mars is our best bet to establish a colony on another planet.

So, what’s with the delay?

Why haven’t humans landed on Mars?

The Martian
Image from the movie The Martian

There are many reasons why going to Mars is difficult. For starters, humans can’t breathe on Mars, water will be hard to get, and surviving is not going to be easy.

But if we had to choose one main reason why humans haven’t been to Mars, it is money. It is very expensive to go to Mars and there is really no economic or military benefit in doing so. The cost has been difficult to justify for NASA.

It is also important to remember that when NASA went to the Moon in the sixties, the main reason why the cost of the space program was justifiable was the threat of the cold war with the Soviets. Both the US and the USRR believed that space was the next frontier where wars would be fought so they both tried to get the upper hand in the race. The motives for those trips to the Moon weren’t purely scientific.

After the US won that race and the Soviets couldn’t put a man on the Moon, things calmed down and there was no longer any pressure to continue pursuing space exploration (other than the fact that we will have to leave Earth at some point so the species can survive but it’s hard to explain that to politicians that are just thinking about the next election cycle).

Thankfully, the appearance of private space companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin has re-ignited people’s interest in space exploration.

When will humans go to Mars?

There is no concrete timeline for a manned mission to Mars. In the most recent update, Spacex’s CEO, Elon Musk has stated that 2029 would likely be the earliest possible launch date, but there is still a long path ahead before that.

A trip to Mars would last approximately 6 months and would have a crew of at least 12 astronauts.

China has also expressed interest in landing on Mars, but doesn’t have a timeline either.

The European Space Agency and the Indian Space Agency have plans to send a rover and an orbiter to Mars respectively in the near future, but both of those missions are unmanned.

In good news, NASA is planning to go back to the Moon and land the first woman as part of the Artemis program. The current plan is for the Artemis 3 spaceship to be the mission that will have a human crew and land on the Moon. The current timeline has the Artemis 3 launching in 2025, but that will most likely be delayed due to delays with the Artemis 1.


  • No human has landed on Mars yet.
  • Humans have only walked on the Moon. Not on any other planet.
  • There are plans to send people to Mars, but the mission is still several years away.

Elena is a Canadian journalist and researcher. She has been looking at the sky for years and hopes to introduce more people to the wonderful hobby that is astronomy.