N.A.S.A.'s record for safe space travel is not excellent. Their standard of blowing things up on the way to Mars probably will be equaled in some way-I would guess that government contractors probably profit more than a little when disaster's occur anyway. N.A.S.A. does not design low cost, efficient interplanetary space vehicles or systems, and they use chemical rocket concepts as the essential mode of propulsion and will do so till the cows come home from Mars as revolutionaries I suppose.
If people want to go to Mars next month it would be too dangerous, yet if they don't develop the capacity to go to Mars within a decade or two the collateral failure of human technology to progress while the population goes up billions may spell the doom of humanity on Earth. Failing to go to Mars is too dangerous to risk!
Sure humanity flunks many fairly simple things including solid political philosophy conformed to human needs. One gets a Leviathan from Thomas Hobbes and an Essay on Government from John Locke that are entirely incompatible. Hobbes and Stalin might have got along, and possibly Russian anarchists with Locke and Nathan Hale, yet which of the lot could have brought good ecological economics and space-travel technology together right away if they were all alive today with political power?
New space travel methods can make space travel to Mars simple and cheap. Developing Mars should also be simple and cheap. Terraforming Mars under glass should be simple and cheap-yet humanity can make the most impossibly dangerous and difficult situations out of the simple and safe...the fault lies within ourselves and not in the stars.
An interview in the field by a survivor of the return from Mars of the altered state Enterprise Rover assault disaster elicited a true report of the dangers of spaced travel beyond the edges of the world and solar system...'Thar be monstars aplenty me bucko. Two days out ye run into the doom goons of gun and lilies of prisswitts assaulting the ship for quarters and shakin down the hatches, carryon off the bolts and nuts and ripples in space time leave it tall a shakin. Mars is especially doom on hardware with wired read-breathing appuratusses and hippobeasts eating the government fodder freely. Electrical bilge circuit overloads and concurrence's of code-word sloggin by vengeful mimedwarfs are repelled only with loss of crew and yeomanry-pikesmen and slingers, archers and arrows-then the return to Earth and the computers, M.B.A.'s and trade goods a barterin"
-plainly the interview complete with Xeno Map detailing the locations of the dangers of the road to Mars-space-time warps, flattened dimensions, cull de sac, cosmic rays, fearful cold, a far piece without triple A and inadequate tax and developer base were indicated along with extra-terrestrial monsters in hidden yet well located places.
A space race for the moon is presently in progress and so is one for Mars as well. Though the United States may not exist in 30 years because of trans-national corporatist M.B.A.'s loyal to profits only with democracy lumped in with public sector investments as communist (corporatists are feudalistic moving toward monopoly and hate the big communist monopolies jealously) there is still a plethora of private and national space ventures including various X prises such as the one from Google for a private lunar landing of a machine explorer that will proceed even if America falters as it has since the last Apollo landing.
Comparatively the world is in the process of destroying itself and it's environment anyway with a neurotic concentration on corporate profits by M.B.A.'s to the detriment of what are consider 'externalities' that they should not be responsible for, and only communists or zil drivers would have an interest in the environment or anything requiring taxation to accomplish so a Mars mission should go ahead faster, cheaper and better than anything presently planned.
Electro-magnetic mass drivers on the moon should be used to launch like an electro-magnetic cannon designed on S.D.I. rail gun principles and metalstorm gun miniature models to launch a lot of pre-formed hardware and supplies to Mars. A number of base camp supply modules life boats should be set to float around in Mars orbit, at L5, on Mar's moon Phobos (it means 'fear' in Latin) and in Mars-Earth transit orbits such that they are no more than three months apart in passing any fixed relative point in the circuit.
Long term expose to cosmic rays in space destroy the human D.N.A.'s coherence and something like 15 feet of water of ice are needed for shielding humans from long term cosmic ray exposure. The transit base camps all should be designed for later shield by liquid water or ice, and Mars should have an electro-magnetic mass driver to hurl water into space for use in creating cosmic ray shields.
There are a number of space propulsion technologies that will get space-travelers from the Moon to Mars in two years, yet the time could be improved by construction of a large electro-magnetic macro accelerator through which a normal chemical rocket or ion driven space-ship would boost its speed to a significantly quicker pace. New adaptations of existing technology would need to be synthesized for the project.
Mars is a high frontier that should be approached like exploration missions of prior centuries in the Earth's past such as the Falcon Scott and Amundsen competitions in the Antarctic. Will America be a Amundsen or a Scott in its approach to practical field procedures of expedient space travel? Scott had the glorious teamwork and determination of naval disciple brave to the end, while Amundsen comparatively breezed on past with dogs pulling the load instead of men having spent a lifetime carefully researching the ways of the polar environments and using the most expedient and effective methods to get around. America could build space-stations as if they were hollow spheres sprayed and dried to a certain size then built up with other layered materials in space and create as many floating space-spheres as there are little sea-shell tests that built up the cliffs of Dover over eons of time. It takes imagination and the determination of the intrepid explorer such as Robert McClure navigating Canada's then unknown Banks Island for the British Admiralty.
Dangers exist in exploration yet that is usual. One must expect dangers and loss of equipment and engineer technologies and systems that can survive the attrition. McClure's ship was turned on its side by the ice-floes and nearly crushed before being released. They sailed farther north and were eventually frozen in permanently being rescued only months later by naval sledging parties look for the northwest passage.
The construction possibilities for Earth shelters and dome homes is indescribably good. It would be a good way to get away from the rat race for a while, grow your own organic produce and read philosophy books while thinking about God and serious topics.