BlueMerle writes "Mission to Mars:
I've been watching Mars Rising on SciCh and find myself asking, is it possible? And in almost every case my answer is No! Not under current conditions, with existing, think proven, technology.
Gravity: Without some sort of artificial gravity the crew would most likely not be able to stand when they reached Mars. And to the best of my knowledge there are no actual plans for building any type of spacecraft that has the ability to generate artificial gravity. There are many ideas, and CGI renderings of possibilities, but no actual blueprints or technical drawings, and there is certainly nothing that exists to prove the concept.
My best guess, 25 — 30 years of testing and billions of dollars until a viable solution.
Shielding: Without adequate shielding from intense radiation the crew may not survive the trip. This is perhaps the easiest problem to solve. There are currently several research projects working on this issue, and some have shown real progress without having to build a 3 foot thick lead room.
My best guess, 2 — 10 years with relatively minimal funding.. tens of millions.
Human Factor: Is it really possible to put 6 or 8 people in a spacecraft the size of a small apartment and lock them in for up to 2.5 years (round trip, including time on Mars)? This in my opinion is the biggest single obstacle to be overcome. Oh and BTW, personal hygiene consists of a small towelette with 2 or 3 drops of water. And you may not get even that on a daily basis! The nastiest bathroom in the nastiest gas station would seem like the essence of floral nirvana compared to the smell inside the spacecraft after just a few weeks.
Not to mention sexual tension, personality conflict, stress, boredom etc.. etc..
I don't see this one being overcome until a spacecraft is built that offers enough room to allow some sense of personal space, or some sort of suspended animation system is developed, and frankly neither one is in the cards anytime soon.
My best guess, > 100 years and zillions and zillions of dollars in R&D, Process Development, and testing of a very large and expensive spacecraft. ( Developing a transporter... Priceless!)
It's not that I don't look forward to mankind going into space, it's just that I don't think it's possible for anything other than short duration, low earth orbit jaunts. And even if I'm way off on this, could we send a maned mission to orbit Saturn? No we couldn't so what does it really matter. Until we can solve some very basic "Human" issues, or are willing to spend obscene amounts of money on spacecraft we are doomed to stay put.
I'd be interested to hear what others here at /. think."