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Russian plan to send 500 to Mars SpaceFlights.us
SpaceFlights.us: Russian plan to send 500 to Mars
Posted in: SpaceNews | by Sarah Ramsey | 2010-05-20
Original article
2010-05-20

Moscow, Russia - There is perhaps no planetary body in the universe that has drawn as much attention as the red planet. The moon has been a constant partner in for human beings making it a compelling but ordinary object, much like the Sun.

Mars though has been the source of speculation and fascination for both laymen and scientists alike for centuries. When Galileo first peered at the surface of the mysterious planet 400 years ago he opened up the world of astronomy and the world of dreams, pushing us to peer further and further into the heavens.

As our nearest and most common sibling it's perhaps only natural that we would be drawn to the red planet and as our technology improves we grow ever closer to the day when we will actually be able to touch the surface of that alien planet. It is then perhaps fitting that the country which began spaceflight, Russia, has begun in earnest the first serious effort to bring human beings to the planet with a project called Mars-500 which, as its name suggests, will send 500 people to the surface of that distant planet. Though the project is still a long way from fruition, the sheer ambition is exciting many in the scientific community and beyond.

"There are four Russian citizens - two doctors, Sukhrob Kamolov and Alexander Smoleyevsky, and two engineers, Alexei Sityov and Mikhail Sinelnikov, two European engineers - Romain Charles of France and Diego Urbina of Italy, and China's Wan Yue on the crew," said mission director Boris Morukov. "Obviously we will have some backups and a few people to round out the crew but these will be the principal involved. This is just the first step in our ascent to the heavens, something of which our ancestors could only dream. Now we are finally able to achieve these dreams and bring the world beyond back to our own." Precise details of the mission have not been revealed but critics are reportedly very concerned with the physics of lifting a vessel capable of holding 500 people into space. "The Russians are crazy if they think this thing is going to fly.

Aside from the weight of all of those people you need to create a vessel that can house them and provide them with enough food and water for a very long trip. It will take at least 9 months either way which is a long way to go. Getting that much equipment in space and moving would be monumental to say the least," said a NASA employee. "The Russians don't have that kind of technology. We don't have so they don't even come close. The first manned missions to Mars should be small flights with only a hand full of people. Even then the engineering that will be required is incredible and expensive. There's no way the Russians are doing that, no way at all." The Russian space agency offered no comment.

"Mars as a destination makes sense. It's is very similar to Earth in many ways and could potentially provide us with important insight into the nature of the universe, our solar system, life, and what really happened to that planet, which in turn could help us understand the eventual fate of our planet," said Scrape TV Science analyst Dr. Howard Poe. "That said, manned missions are a tough thing. They are expensive and dangerous and don't accomplish much beyond what unmanned vessels are able to accomplish, at least from a scientific perspective. Sending the equivalent of a small town to the planet just seems odd, unless of course they have decided to build a colony there. That would be cool."

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