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Mars Medicine Space Science

Disease May Prevent Manned Journey To Mars 177

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-penicillan-to-mars dept.
Pickens writes "Science Daily News reports that human missions to Mars and all other long-term space flights might be compromised by disease, first because space travel appears to weaken astronauts' immune systems; and second, because it increases the virulence and growth of microbes. 'When people think of space travel, often the vast distances are what come to mind first,' says Jean-Pol Frippiat from Nancy-University in France, 'but even after we figure out a way to cover these distances in a reasonable amount of time, we still need to figure out how astronauts are going to overcome disease and sickness.' Frippiat says studies show that immune systems of both people and animals in space flight conditions are significantly weaker than their grounded counterparts and that common pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli and Staphylococcus reproduce more rapidly in space flight conditions, leading to increased risk of contamination, colonization and serious infection."
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Disease May Prevent Manned Journey To Mars

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  • two words... (Score:3, Informative)

    by lannocc (568669) <shawn@lannocc.com> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:18AM (#29933025) Homepage
    Diversified ecosystem.
    • Re:two words... (Score:5, Informative)

      by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudsonNO@SPAMbarbara-hudson.com> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:33AM (#29933065) Journal

      WTF? How is a first post mentioning a "diversified ecosystem" redundant? Your immune system responds better if there are constant challenges to it, which is what a diversified ecosystem does. It also tends to help keep pathogens numbers down, since even pathogens have predators/competitors in a diversified ecosystem.

      • Re:two words... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by sillybilly (668960) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:48AM (#29933275)
        The constant challenge to your immune system is xray and gamma radiation. Astronauts say spacewalk "smells" like a pine forest or sparks. Which is the smell of ozone/nitrous oxides. It's caused by radiation, it's like a locally generated ozone-layer, inside your spacesuit. Life, such as the human body, or especially Deinococcus Radiodurans bacteria, can still withstand quite a bit of radiation or oxidation damage and repair itself. The major source of radiation damage comes from potassium in the diet, from the potassium 40 isotope. Another similar damage is UV radiation damage, that still causes skin cancer here and there after all these millions of years of adaptation. The major source of oxidation damage that is very similar to radiation damage, comes from oxygen. Life cannot function without either potassium or oxygen, though you could clean up potassium 40 from your diet. But what's the point?

        For any kind of successful very longterm space missions one needs heavy shielding at least equivalent to the atmosphere we have down here on earth. More radiation (even living at higher altitudes with less atmospheric shielding, or even near an ozone hole region) increases the rates of mutations miscarriages and cancers, but also the rate or adaptation to new environments. One of the dangers with non-well-shielded space travel is faster evolution than down here on Earth. But multilayer shielding can compensate for that, and keep mutation levels to lower than natural.

        That brings up the question, that maybe lack of radiation is a cause of sicknesses, in a sense of not keeping the immune system well trained. People who live in a completely sterile bacteria free environment have very weak immune systems that lacks training. One still needs a flora to coexist inside the body if for nothing else, for composting intestinal contents. Those same bacteria can cause illnesses, if not kept under check by the immune systems constant vigilance. Still, as far as radiation goes, people coming from areas of high background radiation, such as India, don't seem to suffer much compared to people living in low background radiation areas. If anything, fluoride in their drinking water is the bigger problem for them, and background radiation is a relative nonissue. Perhaps a certain dose of background radiation is like a vitamin, increases health by keeping the immune system trained.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by khallow (566160)

          Still, as far as radiation goes, people coming from areas of high background radiation, such as India

          India has a traditionally high population density. You need to find a better example that doesn't have enormous alternate factors for explaining disease resistance.

      • Three words... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by AliasMarlowe (1042386)

        Your immune system responds better if there are constant challenges to it, which is what a diversified ecosystem does.

        Lots of sex.
        Without condoms (and with swallowing). Regular exchange of bodily fluids also keeps your immune system ticking over. Regular sex might help morale as well.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rvw (755107)

          Your immune system responds better if there are constant challenges to it, which is what a diversified ecosystem does.

          Lots of sex.

          Without condoms (and with swallowing). Regular exchange of bodily fluids also keeps your immune system ticking over. Regular sex might help morale as well.

          No but yeah but yeah but yeah no but yeah no but yeah... ...but no

          because that may result in this [littlebritain.tv]! And that's no diversity what you see although it may be interesting to watch this move around Mars for a while and it cleans things up here a little.

    • Re:two words... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by operator_error (1363139) <spztoid@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:57AM (#29933139)

      Hmm, I was thinking those words were gonna be: selective breeding.

      Until that works out, I suggest we focus on telescopes and probes, rovers, and those things that float in seas of frozen methane. Also as a way to reduce our carbon emissions by using lower weight vehicles.

    • by Goffee71 (628501)
      Four words; all-over body condom. See our great heroes boinking about the red planet in complete safety
    • Re:two words... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Reziac (43301) * on Saturday October 31, 2009 @09:58AM (#29934163) Homepage Journal

      Actually, yes...

      There are two basic possibilities here:

      1) low gravity enhances microbe growth. -- Eh, probably not enough in itself, since the microbial balance would probably still be roughly the same.

      2) if the environment is made too sterile, it actually encourages pathogens, which are normally kept largely in check by other microbes. This is actually the root of the problem with hospitals and resistant infections today, to the point that some are considering returning to a less-sterile general environment. -- Easily solved; just don't sterilize the equipment in the first place. In short, maintain the diversified natural microbial population, to discourage overgrowth of pathogens.

    • yes.

      Or to elaborate a bit, I wonder if we're not neglecting a bigger problem in the other direction. It seems like we're constantly discovering greater degrees of mutualism between humans and the micro-organisms swarming all over (and through) our bodies. A common example is our digestive dependence on bacteria in the intestines, and the recently discovered role of the appendix in maintaining the intestinal culture [1,2].

      While I'm not aware of any short term (longest stay in space 400-500 days) effects, w

    • "...the Orion design would have worked by dropping small shaped charge fission or thermonuclear explosives out the rear of a vehicle, detonating them 200 feet (60 m) out, and catching the blast with a thick steel or aluminum pusher plate....The 'base design' consisted of a 4000 ton model planned for ground launch from Jackass Flats, Nevada. Each 0.15 KT (sea-level yield) blast would add 30 mph (50 km/h, 13.89m/s) to the craft's velocity. A graphite based oil would be sprayed on the pusher plate before each

  • MiR? ISS? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Well, we had people on long term space missions on Mir and ISS that are comparable in time with a mars mission, without them being eaten alive by E. coli, Salmonella and whatnot. What was the problem again?
    • Re:MiR? ISS? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AniVisual (1373773) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:27AM (#29933053)

      I'm sure that those people had constant refuellings with air over the years (maintenance). There isn't in a closed environment like a shuttle to Mars.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Then I would posit that the first step would be a station or stationary ship, in space, to run a "no movement" drill for the trip to Mars.

        If it takes 2 years, then that ship has to last 2 years without any help unless there is an extreme emergency.

        • Then I would posit that the first step would be a station or stationary ship, in space, to run a "no movement" drill for the trip to Mars.

          If it takes 2 years, then that ship has to last 2 years without any help unless there is an extreme emergency.

          That's not a bad idea, with the shuttles' EOL coming up quick, they should get on this. Have a bumper number of Soyuz resupplies, and take up as much resupply as you can with the remaining shuttle launches, get 6 new 'nauts up there and let them stew for 2 years or as long as you can before sending up another Soyuz resupply.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mbone (558574)

        There isn't in a closed environment like a shuttle to Mars.

        I don't think that that is really true or relevant. Even the long duration ISS expeditions typically had only 1 or 2 Progress spacecrafts dock with them during the mission. I would imagine that any deep space missions would have provisions kept in lockers or modules that would be opened in time (i.e., whatever perturbations are caused by a Progress supply mission would be similar to that caused by opening a previously closed supply module). BTW,

      • Re:MiR? ISS? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by khallow (566160) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @12:19PM (#29935121)
        The ISS is a worse environment. Sure some things have been replaced regularly. But on the other hand, the ISS has been active for somewhere around 10 years now, far longer than any proposed Mars craft. Microbes have plenty of places to thrive for ten years. And we have prior MIR and Skylab experience as well. None of these indicate any microbe problem of this sort.
      • by zoloto (586738)
        How exactly isn't a shuttle to mars an enclosed environment in space?
      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        There isn't in a closed environment like a shuttle to Mars.

        We (as a species) have experience of running two closed environments. One is going badly down the pan after a few tens of thousands of years of human use ; the other is about a billionth of the size (real billion) and survived about 2 weeks before they had to start adding some molecules and removing others.

        Closed environments are something that our species are going to have to learn about one of these centuries, if only for getting to Alpha Centaur

    • Re:MiR? ISS? (Score:4, Informative)

      by ikedasquid (1177957) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:19AM (#29933215)
      Quick wikipedia search results in: The longest stay in space was 438 days, by Russian Valeri Polyakov onboard Mir. Separate search for time (one way) earth to mars is in the range 6 - 9 months. The trip would require O2 production and CO2 scrubbers or some equivalent. The scrubbers used in industry and on submarines are generally toxic to people (and presumably to microbes) or get really hot. Either way I think the idea of cleansing the air to reduce illness would be trivial. Bring plenty of hand sanitizer and I think it'll be under control.
      • Re:MiR? ISS? (Score:4, Informative)

        by kdemetter (965669) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:44AM (#29933261)

        That brings another problem : if you keep the environment completely pathogen free , the immunity of the people there will drop significantly , since it is not being stimulated.
        So , when they come home , they will immediately get sick.

        • Re:MiR? ISS? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Neoprofin (871029) <neoprofin AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:56AM (#29933299)
          If they come home, dealing with people whose immune systems have been compromised isn't exactly a new or unexplored problem.
      • by sadler121 (735320)

        438 day is nothing if NASA uses a VASIMIR rocket, previous stories on Slashdot [slashdot.org] have said they could get there in a 39 days.

    • by smoker2 (750216)
      The space stations are in low earth orbit. So they are protected by the earths magnetic field from lethal cosmic radiation. Without that protection, the human immune system has to battle on too many fronts while being actively weakened by the radiation.
  • by Majik Sheff (930627) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:23AM (#29933033) Journal

    This isn't a first post, but it's the only Ice Pirates reference on Slashdot.

  • by symes (835608)
    Wouldn't it help to have them in a sterile environment for a prolonged period to make sure they are not taking any particularly nasty microbes on in the first place? Perhaps give them a few shots of antibiotics to be on the safe side? Or even give them some immune boosting drugs to take along. Oh and make sure they take a lot of brocolli with them and that they eat all their vegetables.
    • Re:Sterile (Score:5, Interesting)

      by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradisNO@SPAMpalegray.net> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:48AM (#29933117) Homepage Journal
      I'm not an immunologist, but the gist of your post echoes my thoughts. Provided the astronauts are properly isolated prior to a manned mission to Mars, I assume the risk of pathogen transmission would be greatly reduced. Sterilization of all food provisions carried for the mission would be assumed. I understand that we may not have good data on extended periods (read: multiple years) of lack of exposure to commonly encountered pathogens; perhaps the personnel involved would require an extended stay in a gradual re-acclimation environment following their return to Earth. To address concerns over illnesses encountered on the journey, I'd hope that highly trained medical personnel and provisions for proper treatment of a wide range of illnesses would be included in any approved mission protocol.
    • not possible (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jipn4 (1367823) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:51AM (#29933127)

      While getting rid of salmonella is good, you can't get rid of all disease causing bacteria. And if the environment you live in is too sterile, your body just becomes more susceptible to other infections and to auto-immune disease.

      Injecting antibiotics is about the worst thing you can do because it really messes up your bacterial ecology. Bacteria are a natural part of your body, and if you start killing them with antibiotics, things go wrong. Antibiotics should really only be taken when there is a serious infection present.

      In addition to artificial gravity (via rotation), the solution may be to challenge the body with other microbes that are known to be not too harmful, similar to "pro-biotic drinks".

    • Re:Sterile (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Patch86 (1465427) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @09:27AM (#29933955)

      Thats what I was thinking. Surely a small capsule with a handful of people surrounded by thousands of miles of near-vacuum is about as close to a clean-room environment as you can get.

      Sterilize everything, let them spend a blissful year or two in splendid good health, then worry about their poor shattered immune systems when they get back.

  • rotate it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jipn4 (1367823) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:46AM (#29933105)

    Why not rotate the ship for "artificial gravity"?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by etnoy (664495)
      Works in theory, but a rotating spacecraft would in practice be a horrible experience. To achieve enough "artificial gravity" the angular velocity needs to be pretty high (assuming that the diameter of the spacecraft is much smaller than the diameter of the earth), which in turn generates a lot of coriolis forces. These coriolis forces are not very pleasant. Ever been on a thrill ride in an amusement park? Imagine being stuck in such a rotating thing for more than a limited amount of time...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rick17JJ (744063)
        If the diameter of the circle of the rotation is large enough, the astronauts would not get motion sickness. Back in the 1970s, I read that a space station of about 1 mile in diameter, could be rotated at 1 G gravity without making the people inside seasick.

        Instead of making the spaceship that large, they could attach the living quarters to each end of a very long cable, and then slowly rotate the ship. In the center of the cable, they could place a zero-G section which would contain sensors, and possibly
    • by rossdee (243626) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @07:56AM (#29933485)

      Put a spinning deck inside the spacecraft. Then the astronuats can run around the rim to get exercise .
      Oh and put a manual switch for the pod bay door on the outside of the ship in case the computer runs amok.

  • meat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cl0ckt0wer (973067) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:53AM (#29933129)
    Why do we care about sending our meatbag selves to other planets? I'd be more productive if we could just send some strong AI to do it for us.
    • > Why do we care about sending our meatbag selves to other planets? I'd be more
      > productive if we could just send some strong AI to do it for us.

      "The meek shall inherit the Earth. The rest of us shall go on to the stars".

      You are more than welcome to stay right there in your mother's basement and watch. You'll be safe and warm. No need to go out into the big scary world at all.

    • For one thing, human intelligence is something we already have. Strong AI is something we might have one day.
    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      Yeah sure, the solution to the problem isn't something that's possible but something that doesn't exist yet and might never exist. I say we beam up some strong AI hard-light holograms!

  • to keep things sterile...

    Prototype here:
    http://www.sitcomsonline.com/photopost/data/813/kryten2.jpg [sitcomsonline.com]

  • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:58AM (#29933145)

    Maybe we're meant to be on Earth after all? The conditions seem just fine, ... for now at least.

    But please, send more robots first. They can do a lot more with a lot less controversy.

    • > Maybe we're meant to be on Earth after all?

      "Meant" by who?

      • by 4D6963 (933028)
        Meant by the fact that we (and our ancestors) were "built" to thrive in our Earthly environment and not in any other?
    • by Johnno74 (252399)

      Yeah but the way things are going the conditions might not be "just fine" one day, and we should be practicing with closed mini-biospheres and things now.

  • by mbone (558574) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:59AM (#29933149)

    There have been ISS Expeditions that have lasted times comparable to at least one way to Mars - Expeditions 4, 6, 8 and 13 at least. There is no microbiological difference between orbiting the Earth and going to Mars, so I would conclude that people should be able to get to Mars just fine.

    I still think that truly deep space exploration will require artificial gravity (i.e., spinning spacecraft), but this sounds like FUD to justify research funds to me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cobbaut (232092)

      There is no microbiological difference between orbiting the Earth and going to Mars

      Yes there is, ISS gets air resupply regularly!!

      • by mbone (558574)

        Because air is lost. The human waste in the air is scrubbed and O2 is generated inside the ISS. This is all engineering driven, and I don't see the slightest reason why the same engineering wouldn't be used on any near-term deep space mission.

        3 Progress flights per year carry something like 9 tons of supplies to the ISS (that includes propellant, by the way). I don't see why carrying along 9 tons of supplies along on a deep space mission is any different from a biological point of view.

    • I still think that truly deep space exploration will require artificial gravity (i.e., spinning spacecraft), but this sounds like FUD to justify research funds to me.

      I've heard it told (though IANAA) that being sensitive to smells isn't a qualifier for spaceflight. Adults wearing diapers, zero-G toilets, no showers.

      No wonder there are problems with the same challenges as basic hygiene.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:13AM (#29933197)

    Boy how would those trips compare to early the first voyages to the "New World", except that they will probably be more clean, more antiseptic, and their health will be monitored much more closely.

    What's worse tuill now no one has pointed this out. What pussies we've become.

    • by srothroc (733160) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @07:08AM (#29933341) Homepage
      A lot (lot) of people died on those first voyages to the New World. Entire ships were lost as well. I don't think anyone wants to send boatloads of astronauts in an expensive investment without guaranteeing that they'll arrive in one piece.
      • by jamstar7 (694492)

        A lot (lot) of people died on those first voyages to the New World. Entire ships were lost as well. I don't think anyone wants to send boatloads of astronauts in an expensive investment without guaranteeing that they'll arrive in one piece.

        Most of those colonists were middle & lower class citizens without a whole lot of training other than how to farm, put up a hut, etc. You're talking orders of magnitude of training differential here. I have yet to see any proposal to send Joe Sixpack on a Mars missi

      • by lennier (44736)

        "I don't think anyone wants to send boatloads of astronauts in an expensive investment without guaranteeing that they'll arrive in one piece."

        And let's not forget the mass slavery which made colonising the New World an economic proposition. Maybe the key to space development is re-legalising the slave trade?

    • They didn't know there were things as microbes (or that you need to have a diet with vitamin C to avoid scurvy).

      They sure knew there was a risk in taking the travel (as there was a risk in every sea travel), but I am pretty sure too that, had they know about these things, they would have taken steps to avoid/minimize the risks.

      Don't take ignorance for courage.

    • by psnyder (1326089)
      There was a large demand to get to the "New World" to both flee persecution and make money. Many individuals, corporations, and governments could see a tangible opportunity worth the risk.

      Few people want to flee Earth at the moment, and getting to Mars is still a rather poor monetary investment.
    • by lennier (44736)

      "Boy how would those trips compare to early the first voyages to the "New World""

      Well, no Indians there at the other end for a start.

      Also no corn, sugar cane, potatoes, tomatoes, tobacco, turkeys, buffalo, passenger pigeons, Missippi, Great Lakes, Montezuma, or oxygen.

      Other than that, exactly the same!

  • by Fuzzzy (967665) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:56AM (#29933297)
    The conquistadors at the 15th century were able to travel long distances on ships full of diseases, and yet conquered and eliminated the native civilizations of America. Diseases may be a difficulty, but they won't prevent space travel.
    • Actually, the conquistadors' diseases helped them to conquer and eliminate the native civilizations of America.

      Who knows, maybe our first gift to aliens, when we first meet them, will be some of the nasty critters in the human body.

      On the other hand, maybe when we reach Mars, we might run into some kind of Andromeda Strain.

      "Yippee! We discovered life on Mars! Um, but its not quite how we imagined it."

    • by shentino (1139071)

      The disease helped them conquer the natives.

  • We can either choose to fight them with our microbes over there, or be forced to fight them with our microbes here [fourmilab.ch].
  • .. given that sending humans to Mars is pretty much a 99.99% waste of everyone's resources. As well all know, can do science research on Mars at a fraction of the cost of sending a space shuttle into a week lond trip around earth, much less the cost of the human mission that has a chance of reaching Mars. And don't tell me the B.S. about colonizing Mars. Earth will remain hospitable for life for hundreds of millions of years. If there is going to be some kind of catastrophe on Earth, it's far more likely th

    • by tftp (111690)

      sending humans to Mars is pretty much a 99.99% waste of everyone's resources

      Most of what we do is a waste of resources. Why do you go for a walk? Why do you eat at a restaurant? Why do you drive your sports car? Why do you need a hobby? Why do you have a pool in your backyard? Why, in fact, do you have a house that is larger than 100 sq. ft. per person?

      In a non-wasteful world people would be confined to cocoons, immobilized (to not waste energy on movement) and fed liquid paste that contains exactly as

  • I'm just saying, maybe those Nancy frenchmen have weak immune systems, but I don't see a problem for us Americans.
    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      Sure, because hardly having any showers and eating toxic-smelling cheeses full of mold and live worms makes people with weak immune systems. Enjoy your daily shower and teeth flossing, sissy!

  • Faster Spaceships (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tjstork (137384)

    The answer is to build a faster spaceship. We need to have nuclear powered craft of some sort. The distances are simply too vast for chemical rockets. You could spend billions trying to study all the ways to keep people up in space safely for two years and probably still screw it up. The enemy is time, so solve that problem, and everything else will fall into place. That at least can get us around the solar system, and there should be enough materials in that to build some sort of an interstellar craft

    • by k8to (9046)

      It's called an ion drive.

      Any explosion-based propulsion is not going to work so well, because you run out of mass. The trick to space travel is to accelerate the matter that you are emitting at the highest speed possible, not to just make the biggest bang. It's not like you're going to find a bunch more fuel waiting for you at the halfway point.

  • For interstellar travel, you need a big spaceship with:

    a) nuclear propulsion that can accelerate the spacecraft to relativistic needs.

    b) a nuclear power source, so as that the ship does not remain out of power for a long time; plus, you can run an electromagnetic shield around the craft, just like Earth has one.

    c) artificial gravity with rotating sections.

    d) landing craft.

    e) a large sick bay.

    This last item comes handy when there is sickness and disease. Furthermore, a big spaceship minimizes the chances of

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by master_p (608214)

      By the way, if USA did not engage in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it would have the money to build that spaceship *by itself*.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Purpendicular (528740)
        Bollocks. The US could build rockets if it wanted to. The US used to spend 6% of GDP on the military during the cold war. Britain spend 50% of GDP on the military during the second world war.
        The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are small drops in the ocean compared to such ventures.

        Also, remove 100 billion $ from the trial lawyers.

        And drill, baby, drill!

        It could also have done as Harding did in 1920-21 recession. He cut the budget in half between 1920-22. And the national debt by 1/3. The result turned ou
    • by mbone (558574)

      All of the other items might be without our power, but we do not know how to do this :

      a) nuclear propulsion that can accelerate the spacecraft to relativistic needs.

      Let's consider two candidates - Project Orion [wikipedia.org], with an effective exhaust velocity of maybe 30 km / sec (10^-4 c) , and the Project Daedalus [wikipedia.org] design, with an effective exhaust velocity of 10,000 km / sec (0.03 c). Suppose we wanted to travel at 0.1 c - landing at the far end means the total delta v is 0.2 c (60,000 km/sec). (Note that Daedalus a

  • It is really sad that nuclear rockets were abandoned when the space race was won by the US against the Russians. Nuclear rockets consist of a reactor that heats hydrogen that is accelerated.
    A nuclear rocket would take 3 months to get to mars, 3 months back. Back in 1970, 400 M $ were missing to get the first one off the ground as a third stage of an Apollo rocket.
    The theoretical useful weight for a nuclear rocket is 38% of the total that can go up in space, compared to 4% for a chemical rocket.
    Nerva-2
  • Why haven't they tried spinning up a spacecraft to simulate gravity? It seems like a logical step but NASA has been quiet about doing this. At least it would ameliorate (heh... I get points for using that word) some of the issues with long periods of time in zero gravity.

  • Perhaps they could create artificial gravity by using a 1 mile long cable and a counter weight to slowly rotate the spaceship in large circles. If rotated at just the right speed, they could create the equivalent of 1 G gravity, through centrifugal force. A pilot in a fighter jet experiences the same kind of forces when making a high speed turn.

    The cable could be made out of some super strong lightweight material. Extra fuel and other supplies could be used as the counterweight on the other end of the long
    • by Rick17JJ (744063)
      I forgot to mention, that the reason for using such a long cable would be to avoid having to spin the spaceship so quickly that they would get seasick. With a large enough cable, they could create sufficient centrifugal force (or artificial gravity) without giving the astronauts motion sickness.
  • by Wingsy (761354) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @01:47PM (#29935679)

    Tie a rope around the crew module and the lander. Separate them by a few hundred feet and start them orbiting each other. Instant gravity.

    Borrow a superconducting magnet from the LHC and place it at the center of the 2 modules. Shields up.

    Now what's the problem?

  • Yeah, because in the old days sailors never got sick and/or died on the way ... we waited until the medical issues of travelling for months on ships were made 100% safe. Man, when did humans become such a bunch of pansies.

  • Tonight, on Slashdot: Minor scientists beg for NASA research cash by overhyping their research interests. Film at 11.

  • Proof positive we need to take an Project Orion-style nuclear impulse ship to Mars, arriving there in far less time than in a Hohmann orbit, and significantly faster than the yet unoproven CASIMIR engines. See : Project Orion - The Atomic Spaceship 1957-1965. Dyson, George: Penguin. ISBN 0-140-27732-3 or http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=4&ved=0CBoQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.alivetorrents.com%2Ftorrent%2F943314%2Fbbc-to-mars-by-a-bomb-the-secret-history-of-project-orio [google.com]

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