Can a normal go to Mars

Dream destination Mars?

Early plans for a Mars mission

As early as the 1950s, the German rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun described the conditions for a manned flight to Mars.

In his book "The Exploration of Mars" (1956) he predicted a mission duration of two years and 239 days (260 outward flight, 449 days on Mars and 260 days return flight). The operation was to be carried out by twelve astronauts in two Mars spacecraft.

Practically nothing significant has changed in terms of the technical problems. "Normal" missiles must continue to provide propulsion. A corresponding spaceship that will bring the astronauts safely and healthy to Mars has yet to be designed.

The problems associated with the astronauts' stay on Mars are also still unsolved.

NASA plans for a first flight to Mars for 2033 at the earliest. As before the first moon landing, Mars should first be circled in order to gain experience and try out the necessary techniques. A manned mission with a landing on the Red Planet could then possibly follow in 2039.

The health risks

During a Mars mission, the astronauts leave the protective earth's magnetic field for a long time and are exposed to cosmic rays. So that they do not get cancer, protective measures must be taken for the astronauts in the. The risk of developing cancer is currently said to be 30 percent.

Investigations on identical twins should clarify how strong the influence of cosmic rays can be and what happens in the body. Between 1999 and 2016, for example, the American Scott Kelly flew into space for several long-term stays, while his twin brother Mark was only used on short missions. The investigation of their genetic makeup should clarify whether and to what extent cosmic radiation can damage the DNA.

A successful Mars mission requires that the astronauts remain productive in order to be able to work and provide for themselves in the hostile environment on Mars. Problems related to nutrition or psychological stress also need to be considered.

experiment "MARS 500"

These questions were researched from 2010 to 2011 in a one-time experiment. The "MARS 500" experiment, which cost 15 million euros, was carried out at the Institute for Biomedical Problems near Moscow.

Six male participants were isolated in containers for over 500 days. The situation in a Mars spaceship was simulated as realistically as possible. Contact with the "ground station" existed only via radio and email.

The food was also brought into the containers before the "start". Many factors that can weaken the physical performance and readiness of the astronauts on such a long-term mission were examined.

The results were interesting: monotonous surroundings and poor lighting apparently lead to passivity. Researchers experience this again and again during long-term stays in Antarctic research stations.

Boredom and lack of irritation are a problem. The MARS 500 astronauts also needed a lot more sleep to stay fit. Precise regulations regarding the type and amount of food allocated led to aggression among some test subjects. They felt patronized in the simplest of things.

The question of how one can psychologically cope with the journey into the vastness of space, the distance from earth, remains unanswered.

With the spaceship "Orion" to Mars?

The newly developed "SLS" rocket is 100 meters high. In 2022 at the earliest, it should bring NASA's new manned spacecraft, the "Orion", into space. Rocket and spaceship combine the technical experience of more than 50 years of American space travel. The first unmanned test took place in December 2014.

The rocket system has a modular structure: It is suitable for flights into earth orbit, to the moon or to Mars. ESA is involved: The Europeans are supposed to deliver the service module behind the crew capsule. Good experiences have been made with the ATV supply transporter, which supplied the ISS with supplies for some time.

"Orion" itself can transport four to six astronauts. And just like Apollo 8 once did, the first unmanned test flight is to go towards the moon in 2020. It is circled and then the capsule returns to earth.

Mars is then to be headed for the first time in 2039. Incidentally, almost exactly as Wernher von Braun once thought it up: with separate cargo and living space ships and a permanently operated, huge supply base in a Mars orbit.

Technically, according to NASA scientists at a conference in June 2015, such a project would be feasible. Politically, however, it is currently completely unclear whether the necessary cooperation with the Russian space agency would be possible.