Among the impossible things man would like to do is travelling to Mars and staying there forever. Ten years ago, people would have laughed at the idea. But 10 years from now, the first flight to Mars with humans is expected to take off.
The flight being organised by Mars One, a Netherlands-based not-for-profit organisation, will be one-way. From India alone, over 20,000 applications have come in.
K R Sridhara Murthi, space expert and former managing director of Isro’s Antrix Corporation, told Deccan Herald, “From the roadmap prepared for the trip and the work carried out so far and the technology being considered, it does not appear to be a joke. Six billion US dollars is what they will invest.”
A human flight to Mars will be a reality sooner or later, says Murthi. With humans having lived in space aboard the International Space Station for over a year, and given the rapid development of new technologies, the trip to Mars is not impossible, even if it is a private initiative.
“The launch vehicle has to be a very powerful system and must have a proper crew capsule for travel through space. The people flying will have to carry a good amount of oxygen supply apart from water and food. Food supplies will have to last long. We don’t know whether drinking water is available. If water is available, it would be frozen. It is very cold out there. What intensity of cold can humans withstand? We are not sure. We don’t even know how long humans can survive on Mars. There’s no question of coming back. You’re there for the rest of your life. Only people who have understood all these far-reaching implications can make it.”
Murthi says coming back requires highly sophisticated technology. One would need a very heavy system that has to first escape from Mars orbit and Martian gravity, travel through the sun-centric orbit and then get ensconced in Earth’s orbit and gravity. The re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere is the most critical technology as the crew capsule has to withstand heat at the point of re-entry.
“There are no easy answers. Once they run out of oxygen and water, what would be the consequences? If people die, the bodies may not get decomposed like they do on earth. There are no organisms of the kind that are found on earth to decompose the bodies. Very few people in the world who have a spirit that is extraordinary can make the trip. But before all of this, the very first challenge will be to cross the legal hurdles to undertake the Mars mission.”