I'll never forget July 20, 1969. I was a nine-year-old boy enjoying a circus that had come to town. When the ringmaster suddenly announced that our astronauts had just landed on the moon, everyone cheered loudly. Later that evening, my parents let me stay up to watch Neil Armstrong slowly make his way down the ladder of the Lunar Module and become the first human to set foot upon another world. It had been just a little over eleven years since our nation launched its first artificial satellite, and it seemed as though it would be just a matter of time before we would set our sights on Mars. I remember predictions of a manned mission to the Red Planet by 1973. At the rate our space program was advancing in those days, such an optimistic forecast of things to come seemed reasonable. Unfortunately, following a few more Apollo missions to the moon, the momentum that had propelled NASA in its infancy had slowed to a crawl. Sure, there were many unmanned spacecraft sent all over the place taking spectacular pictures of celestial bodies, but with the exception of the occasional shuttle mission to repair satellites, the Hubble Telescope, or perhaps the Space Station, manned space flight is fast becoming a distant memory.
Certainly space travel carries risk. The quest for knowledge requires that we take chances. Those before us put themselves in peril by crossing a vast ocean in flimsy ships constructed of wood. Once land in the new hemisphere was settled, later generations of pilgrims assumed further risk by moving westward into unknown territory. The antibiotic you take to rid yourself of a bacterial infection had to first be tested by one willing to do so. We can travel from coast to coast in a matter of hours because somebody was first willing to fly primitive aircraft.
If mankind is to evolve; even survive, the exploration of space and ultimately the colonization of other worlds is essential. Provided we don't destroy ourselves by sheer arrogance, advances in medical science could extend our lifespans by decades. As this takes place, Planet Earth will become too crowded to sustain us. A manned journey to Mars is a logical first step in achieving this objective.
To answer the question to this topic of debate: Regarding space travel and exploration, nothing is too dangerous if we are to continue our existence. If Mars were to eventually become completely populated by humans, this will still only serve as a temporary sanctuary. As our sun ages, it will expand into a Red Giant and swallow a large portion of the planets comprising the solar system.
Nevertheless, we need to crawl before we can walk...................