Without the proper spacecraft and diligent safeguards, if NASA or some private space organization were to attempt to send astronauts to Mars they would have zero chance of making it. Don't forget, just to get to Mars requires at least six months of travel with current rocketry and propulsion methods, but scientists and researchers are working feverishly for better ways to get there.
The latest news is that Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, is exploring the concept of a huge spacecraft to take colonists to Mars! This is a liquid fueled rocket that would take potential colonists who've payed a half a million dollars for the right to colonize Mars. Musk is very serious about this, and it's all over the news. He figures that one of out every hundred thousand folks has the desire and the money to make this a reality. We'll all just have keep our eyes and ears on this, as Musk isn't the type of person to randomly speculate, and he's also put his money where his mouth is. Interesting concept, but for sure it's going to take some time if it all works out.
There is a another program called Mars Direct that has a very interesting strategy for a manned Mars expedition. For instance, if all the fuel, supplies, and astronauts were going to go in one vehicle it would have to be enormous to carry everything. Don't forget, we have to travel there, land on the planet and set up shop. Then there is research on the planet to do. This would certainly involve drilling for water sources, or at least looking for water because the odds are where there is water there could be life. That is one of the primary reasons for the mission. The search for life takes a lot of man and computer power. Anyway, Mars Direct would break the mission down into two vehicles. The first vehicle would be the supply ship. This ship would launch first, unmanned, travel to Mars and land in a favorable spot. The ship would at once be set up to manufacture oxygen and water on the surface with the raw materials. The less the second manned ship has to take, the cheaper and faster and lighter the second ship would be. This is a great idea. The manned ship would follow a few months later and land close by the supply ship. Hopefully at this point enough oxygen and water would be produced for the astronauts in advance.
We have the technology now for this to happen. The only thing standing in our way is someone with the chutzpah to okay it. Back to the astronauts. They would stay on the surface for probably four to six months. Exploring, doing science, and communicating findings back to Earth. Imagine turning on your television and watching astronauts on Mars! Naturally, the pictures you would see are delayed for about twenty minutes because of the distance that Mars is from Earth. It takes that long for light to travel from Mars to Earth, traveling at 186,000 miles per second. This is mind-boggling. To think that part of the human race is so far from home puts a unique perspective on things. Imagine how the astronauts would feel. To look up into the Martian sky and to see Earth as small as a star. This is a new definition of remote. Wow.
It is human nature to explore. But risks are involved with this activity. Anything worth pursuing is worth those risks. If we don't take the risk to move out into our solar system, the human race will stagnate. I firmly believe exploring Mars is not too dangerous, and with the proper precautions we can do it and succeed!