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Friday, September 04, 2009

No return ticket to Mars

On The New York Times:

"The most challenging impediment to human travel to Mars does not seem to involve the complicated launching, propulsion, guidance or landing technologies but something far more mundane: the radiation emanating from the Sun’s cosmic rays. The shielding necessary to ensure the astronauts do not get a lethal dose of solar radiation on a round trip to Mars may very well make the spacecraft so heavy that the amount of fuel needed becomes prohibitive.

There is, however, a way to surmount this problem while reducing the cost and technical requirements, but it demands that we ask this vexing question: Why are we so interested in bringing the Mars astronauts home again?"

The logical answer would be: because you wouldn’t find anybody eager to go into a no way back trip.

But:


"If it sounds unrealistic to suggest that astronauts would be willing to leave home never to return alive, then consider the results of several informal surveys I and several colleagues have conducted recently. One of my peers in Arizona recently accompanied a group of scientists and engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on a geological field trip. During the day, he asked how many would be willing to go on a one-way mission into space. Every member of the group raised his hand.
The lure of space travel remains intoxicating for a generation brought up on “Star Trek” and “Star Wars.”

Conclusion:

"Delivering food and supplies to these new pioneers — along with the tools to grow and build whatever they need, for however long they live on the red planet — is likewise more reasonable and may be less expensive than designing a ticket home. "

I wouldn’t certainly be among them.
But then, I never liked “Star Trek” and “Star Wars.”
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