The shortest distance between the Earth and Mars varies
depending on where the two planets are in their respective orbits. In July 2018, Mars will be a little under 36 million miles away (pretty close to the closest possible distance of 33.9 million miles). However, it's not quite as simple as shooting a big rocket aimed in the right direction. If astronauts are going to survive the trip (and the return?), no one has the technology to do that yet. Manned space exploration sounds like a noble venture, but funding it seems to be a big problem.
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