Only NASA wants its’ astronauts back:
It is often described as “the final frontier”, and not just by those who follow the adventures of Captain Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise. The phrase, though, may take an even more literal meaning for those exploring space in the future.
The next generation of astronauts may hurtle through the cosmos for years or decades on a mission to explore distant planets and stars – and never return.
A senior Nasa official has told the Guardian that the world’s space agencies, or the commercial firms that may eventually succeed them, could issue one-way tickets to space, with the travellers accepting that they would not come back.
The prospect of spending years cooped in a spacecraft would not deter people from applying, he said.
“You would find no shortage of volunteers,” said John Olson, Nasa’s director of exploration systems integration. “It’s really no different than the pioneering spirit of many in past history, who took the one-way trip across the ocean, or the trip out west across the United States with no intention of ever returning.”
In May 1961, President John F Kennedy challenged the US to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade and return him safely to Earth. In an effort costing an estimated $1.4tn in 2009 dollars, Apollo 11astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon 40 years ago today. Now, Nasa hopes to reignite the public’s interest in manned space flight and win support for a massive investment in new trips to space.
If, as Olson predicts, humans reach Mars by the middle of this century, engineers and astronauts may then set their sights on the frozen planets, fiery moons and stars beyond.
I have a suggestion; how about us old, sick, but still able to use our brains ‘almost seniors’ volunteer to take these missions?
We’ve already have our kids, we have grand-kids yeah, but some of us have chronic illnesses that will kill us sooner than later. So cosmic radiation would be no issue.
They’d get more mileage out of us than robots any day!\
And he’s right, despite the dangers, there’d be no shortage of volunteers.
So why send the healthy ones when the marginally healthy will do?