‘ What’s the biggest hurdle to setting up a colony on the Moon or getting mankind to Mars and beyond? Aliens? Asteroids? Money? Try: humans themselves. Experts poring over plans to return to the Moon by 2018 and later stride to Mars believe the greatest-ever gamble in the history of space may ultimately depend on keeping the mind and body sound.
Anxiety, loneliness and tensions with crewmates, a daily battle to maintain fitness and avoid accidents, DNA-shredding radiation from solar flares or cosmic rays — all these make mental and physical health the key to whether a long-term mission will succeed or fail catastrophically.
Benny Elmann-Larsen, coordinator of physiology in human space flight at the European Space Agency (ESA), says psychological stress could be the biggest problem of all.’