Sending Astronauts to Mars Essay

Sending Astronauts to Mars as soon as technically possible has many disadvantages, NSBE Space: Special Interest Group believes that NASA should wait to send astronauts to Mars. There are many obvious reasons why we shouldn’t send astronauts to Mars. Right now there are not many traces of life on Mars. There is not a large chance to discover places and things of immediate value when on Mars. It is estimated that sending a person to Mars would cost over 150 billion dollars. With that kind of money, 800 new Hoover Dams could be built.

A Mars mission could be the single most expensive event in U. S. history (besides wars). The only way to get the money for the equipment would be by cutting health-care benefits, education spending, program spending or raising taxes (Easterbrook). Another big problem is radiation on Mars. NASA weighs radiation danger in units of cancer risk. A healthy 40-year-old non-smoking American male stands about 20 percent chance of eventually dying from cancer. But that percentage is if he stays on Earth. If that same man travels to Mars, then the risk goes up.

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Having that man go to Mars would increase this risk of cancer by 19 percent. This would increase his chances to a 39 percent chance of having cancer. The biggest threat to astronauts is galactic cosmic rays (GCR). GCR are particles accelerated to almost light speed by distant supernova explosions. GCRs can barrel through the skin of the spaceship and people while breaking the strands of DNA molecules, damaging genes and killing cells in the process. Apollo astronauts were exposed to these rays for a few days on their trip to the moon. The GCR may have damaged their eyes.

The Apollo crew reported seeing cosmic ray flashes in their retinas. Many years later, some of those astronauts developed cataracts. Since the estimated travel time for the Mars astronaut would be more than a year, which would be an extended time for radiation damage (NASA). An idea that has been talked about to save money is not bringing the Mars astronauts home again. This idea is not acceptable or humane. One of the big reasons they want to do this is to save money. The fuel to return is carried on the ship which increases the mass of the ship that results in more fuel needed.

This makes up the cost for most of the trip. This is not necessary because there has been a solution to send two ships separately. One would have the astronaut on it; the other would have hydrogen that could be combined with the carbon dioxide from the Mars atmosphere to generate fuel for the return trip. Since the radiation is so high there have been ideas to restrict the trip to only older astronauts about 65 or older. The reason for this is that since they are older their life longevity is limited.

The big problem with this idea is that people can have a change of heart fast. If the astronaut gets up to Mars and then decides that he no longer wishes to stay and wants to come home, he cannot. That will cause many problems with NASA being humane and basically giving a death warrant to astronauts. (Krauss) There is a 20 minute communication lag from Mars to Earth. If there is a problem it would take 20 minutes to send commands then another 20 minutes to receive the response and that is only if the response is immediate. There is no way to land safely and reliably on Mars.

Half of all the attempts to land on Mars have ended in failure. The weight of the supplies for the long trip is impractical. It costs about 35,000 dollars per pound to send things into space which would be an insane food cost for just one mission especially because it would be a long trip. Since a long period of weightlessness deteriorates astronaut’s bones, the space shuttle would have to make room for special exercise equipment plus enough extra air for this exercising. Without the exercise astronauts could be dead within 2-3 months due to underworking.

A manned mission to Mars isn’t very economical since a robotic craft could do the job just as well for a fraction of the price. The public is not interested in sending people to Mars. It is just a huge amount of money spent that would be spent on bigger and more important issues. There is just not a good enough reason to convince the public that sending people to Mars is necessary. NSBE Space is a resource for space professionals within NASA, corporations, entrepreneurial start-ups, legislative and executive branches of government, and academia.

Even though our interest group focused on exploration of space sending a human astronaut is just not acceptable during this time. With the high costs and the higher risks to the astronauts, NASA will have to think of a better solution or a better proof that sending humans to Mars is needed (Debate).

Works Citied

“Can People Go to Mars? – NASA Science. ” Can People Go to Mars? – NASA Science. NASA nnnnScience, n. d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://science. nasa. gov/science-news/science-at-nnnnnasa/2004/17feb_radiation/>. Debate: Manned Mission to Mars. ” – Debatepedia. N. p. , n. d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. nnnn<http://debatepedia. idebate. org/en/index. php/Debate:_Manned_mission_to_Mars>. Easterbrook, Gregg. “Why We Shouldn’t Go to Mars. ” Time. Time, n. d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. nnnn<http://www. time. com/time/printout/0,8816,993172,00. html>. Krauss, Lawrence M. “OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR; A One-Way Ticket to Mars. ” The New York nnnnTimes. The New York Times, 01 Sept. 2009. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. nnnn<http://www. nytimes. com/2009/09/01/opinion/01krauss. html? _r=0>.