Is a manned trip to Mars actually all that dangerous?

I look back to the history I know coming from a western perspective. Columbus faced immense danger when he set sail for India across the Atlantic. Edmund Hillary faced a strong possibility of death for himself and his entire team when they scaled Mt. Everest. What of Magellan when he sailed around the world, or Franklin as he lead an expedition into the Arctic. Not to mention the people who explored the Amazon, or the Nile, or the Antarctic, or even those who risked everything on those first trips to India around Africa.

Image taken by Mars Curiosity rover courtesy of NASA

Image taken by Mars Curiosity rover courtesy of NASA

All these people faced enormous risks to achieve their goals while many others succumbed to those same risks.

As alluded to above, this short list of risk takers come from my western perspective. I can guarantee that people familiar with cultures I know too little about can produce a similar list.

I will go so far as to state that there are many lay-persons who follow space exploration who know more about the risks astronauts will face on a Mars journey than most of those early explorers did regarding their own travels.

Relatively speaking, and in my opinion, a manned trip to Mars isn’t any more dangerous than any previous voyage of discovery we now celebrate as heroic.

Someone is sure to question the cost. What did it cost ancient mariners to outfit a ship? How much did it cost Marco Polo to reach China? How much did Edmond Hillary pay to scale Everest? As for NASA itself, I believe I adequately addressed that question here.


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  1. #1 by Susan A. Royal on 07/08/2018 - 08:45

    In the distant future, someone will be saying the same things about the dangers of exploration. But it will be about traveling to another universe. Could it be dangerous? Absolutely. So could taking a road trip across America.

  2. #2 by Simon Thurtle on 09/08/2018 - 08:04

    “Relatively speaking, and in my opinion, a manned trip to Mars isn’t any more dangerous than any previous voyage of discovery we now celebrate as heroic.”

    Yeah, I am going to hugely disagree with you there.

    To set out my position first, I absolutely think that we should look to send a manned mission to the red planet.

    But, it is vastly more dangerous than anything we’ve undertaken previously. The hostility of the environment, logistics, distances, physical and mental impact of this type of trip are vastly beyond what we’ve undertaken before.

    Plus look at the destination? When those guys you mentioned above arrived, they could setup shop and get on with life. When these astronaughts arrive, their job begins and the risks aren’t deminished at all.

    You can argue about our foreknowledge, technology and equipment involved, but that doesn’t mitigate the risks involved. The risk we face is not to give this undertaking the respect it’s due and therefore underestimate the danger involved.

    As I say, we should go. But we should go with care and consideration.

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