Hey Space Placers!
Congratulations to India for their Mars Orbital Mission (MOM) spacecraft safely reaching Mars AND entering Martian orbit. This is no easy feat as the U.S. and former U.S.S.R. can tell you from the destroyed spacecraft that tried.
Here is the NASA Administrator's statement on MOM.
So we now have 4 spacecraft orbiting Mars
NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
ESA Mars Express
and two operating on the surface
More unmanned missions will follow in the years to come and NASA is taking the necessary steps for a manned mission to the Red Planet with its "The Next Giant Leap" initiative.
The two biggest obstacles to getting humans to Mars are the human body and political will. We will be able to overcome the former with all of the biomedical research being done on the International Space Station (ISS) but the latter is a different story.
Perhaps a truly international collaboration of spacefaring nations will develop to share in the expense and excitement of landing humans on Mars. It is difficult to envision NASA getting the financial backing necessary over a period of a decade or more from Congress unless there is a change within that deeply politicized body.
NASA is building Orion/SLS which will give us capability of reaching deep space but there is no money for a lander at present. It is possible that there would be a manned orbital mission to Mars to pave the way for the actual Mars landing as NASA did with Apollo 10 prior to Apollo 11. It may be that landing on either of the moons of Mars, Phobos or Deimos would be a good way point for surface operations on the Red Planet - perhaps even providing useful resources from these captured asteroids.
Humanity must pursue efforts in space regardless of the never ending wars and conflicts that threaten to consume us. Our destiny and very survival depend on it.
Sky Guy in VA