According to former astronaut Chris Hadfield, people could have already been sent to Mars a few decades ago, by simply using the same technology that was used in the mission to the moon. However, he also stated that only because all this time we had the ability to do so, it doesn’t mean that a journey to the red planet would be easy or safe. Hadfield took part in three space missions, spending 166 days in total in orbit and he is now a retired astronaut.
The implications of landing humans on Mars
Hadfield believes that at the present moment, the risks of traveling to Mars are not that different from those that were faced by NASA in the 1960s and even early 1970s. Being exposed to space radiation can cause various health problems, as it was also illustrated in a study that was published in the journal Nature back in 2016. The study found that the astronauts who were involved in the journey to the moon and back were exposed to a huge risk of deadly heart disease.
It’s worth noting that the distance from our planet to Mars is 660 times more than the distance to the moon. This means that a journey to the red planet and back could take somewhere between 500 days and three years. In Hadfield’s opinion, such a long interplanetary trip could definitely increase the risks of being exposed to radiation, experiencing starvation, encountering explosions and much more. The current technologies that we have could not deal with such complex problems.
Present-day rockets are not good enough for future long-lasting space journeys
Burning chemical fuels for the propulsion of rockets will not be enough to ensure successful future missions to Mars, since the engines of this type of rockets would be too dangerous and the process would take too long, as Hadfield stated. Therefore, it looks like we might have to wait until a new technology is invented, one that will make sure that a trip to another planet will be as safe as possible, without posing too many risks to the human life.