Since the creation of life danger has been inherent. It is an essential part of existence itself. Without the notion of accepted risk many world events would have never happened. The discovery of the New World in 1492, man on the moon, and Operation Normandy to name immediate examples involved danger. Human spirit is to prevail, to determine that everything is possible. Most importantly humanity has the vision with the will to succeed.
The mission to Mars has been scheduled for around 2030 and for intents and purposes it is a race.
It is the next logical step in the exploration of space. Russia and ESA (European Space Agency) have joined together to develop both the research and the technology for such a complex mission. The US president Barack Obama announced in 2010 that he expects manned Mars missions. NASA is ardently working towards this. What position China is taking on this race appears unclear at present.
Science and technology will focus on this mission. With continual satellites being sent to Mars more information is becoming accessible on a regular basis. The development of this information will be applied to modified launchers to carry the astronauts to their destination.
It will take 7 months to travel to from Mars so the journey is long with risk being ever-present. The astronauts face problems of losing muscle-mass, bone density loss, exposure to cancer from radioactivity, and finally mental problems associated with periods of isolation. However a simulation has already been designed to understand these issues. The Mars500 simulator is now operational.
• Mars500 Simulation
The simulation is designed to represent the total mission time to Mars with the astronauts remaining in total isolation. The journey in the simulation is to Mars and back to Earth.
105 days test – 4 Russians and 2 European astronauts begin the precursor to the main Mars500 simulation.
520 days - Mars500 begins on 03 June 2010 with the simulation expected to end on 20 November 2011. 520 days in isolation.
Simulations on the Mars500 simulator between Russia and the European Space Agency are still ongoing. The total immersion simulator represents all elements of the journey. Egress onto Mars is simulated with 2 astronauts living is another compartment for the duration of their time on the red planet. Improvised events are used to test the Astronauts reactions and how they cope with emergencies.
The isolation simulator will also prepare the astronauts for orbiting mars, landing, and the return journey to earth. Although the vessel is not an actual space craft the applications and modifications will be used to develop systems for the actual journey scheduled for 2030.
Results from the test will be a key element in understanding danger and eliminating it from the construction of the true mission. All data can be incorporated into the next phase of the journey to Mars.
The planning and logistics behind the simulation and the effort of world governments to be the first on Mars will ensure that the mission is accomplished. The safety of the Astronauts on this legendary journey will be paramount. The danger will be acceptable and managed with full-redundancy systems in operation. With the best training in the world it will be possible. They will succeed and return as heroes.