Friday, February 23, 2007


Only human – the biggest risk factor in long-term space missions

‘ 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.’

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