Probably the most intelligent person on Earth today is the aging senior, with a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips due to their age, acounting for a lifetime of experience. Moreover, these baby boomers are the prime example of a generation that has cut their teeth on high technology, careers in entrepreneurship, and the love of learning. What better group of seniors to send to space to study the effects of space on aging, than individuals who would not only benefit from it the most but also revel in the magical yellow brick road of its results for humanity?
John Glenn, NASA's former astronaut and Democratic Ohio senator, feels that NASA should send these seniors into space to gather information and data on the human body and how space affects their aging, in order to study and analyze the oncoming onslaught of aging baby boomers. Two of these baby boomers are today's leading female astronauts-Pam Melroy at age 46 and Peggy Whitson at age 47-involved in the recent Discovery shuttle mission/International Space Station repair miracle of the torn solar array. Not only are they leading female baby boomers in space travel, but are part of the mere 21 percent of women who account for NASA's 91 astronauts that are considered eligible to fly NASA's space missions. Top baby boomers that have influenced space in some form or another are Steven Jobs, Bill Clinton, Steven Spielberg, Edward Witten, and Bill Gates.
On the other hand, many people in their 70s to 90s feel that sending people to Mars is totally wrong, preferring to process intellectual knowledge in an "internal manner of the mind," as compared to physically going through the channels on the way to outer space. One such example is Norman H. Horowitz, who vehemently opposed a manned mission to the red planet of Mars. He voiced disapproval for Mars manned missions in a 1988 interview with The New York Times, saying:
"It's just as wrong as can be. It's wrong because it guarantees there won't be any space science. We know how NASA treats science as a second-class citizen when it competes with man-in-space programs."
Many other individuals, including the very elderly, feel that the extremely elderly people are not suitable as experimental subjects, in addition to their fear of dying in outer space alone and without their loved ones. We do not know for sure what will happen to the person out in space, for extended periods of time. Personally, I feel it is warrantless to study the effects of space on the aging. We do not even know what will happen to the younger, more adventurous souls who line up willing to head out now. Are the older people more expandable, as they will die soon anyway, with such questionable results?
We do know for a fact that the cancer rate is higher for women than men (http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2004/17feb_radiation.htm ) in outer space, with double the rate of men which is 3.4 percentor 6.8 percent for women, due to breast and ovary cancer. Older women would not be as high as the younger women, because the cancer rate is less for them on Earth.. An educated right now is that an astronaut has a 40% chance of developing cancer upon their return to Earth. We also know that astronauts have severe fainting spells when returning to Earth for extended periods of space time, and the immune system is compromised in space travel, along with bacteria growing faster than on Earth. And so far, none of this is acceptable for anyoneeven the disposable elderly. (http://www.amarsodyssey.com/2007/11/03/baby-boomer-seniors-in-outer-space/)