After Elon Musk explained how "incredibly depressing" it would be if our "future doesn’t include being [...] a multi-planet species," almost as if in cue, Nasa announced that it plans on getting people to the red planet by 2033. It sounds like getting there and back is not just a matter of sending a rocket in the right direction.
The mission to Mars includes obstacles beyond budget — keeping astronauts healthy and reasonably happy on the journey is chief among them. Without stopovers between Earth and Mars, astronauts will need to port everything they need with them, including air, food, and water, for a round-trip duration of two or three years.
Mental health is likely to be a concern for Mars astronauts, too, as they will essentially be sealed into the space tube for years at a time, with no ability for an emergency return once they leave Cislunar space. NASA’s HI-SEAS isolation experiment has shown promising results, but it is likely that the journey won’t be possible for everyone.
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