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Let's assume that Elon Musk's plan to go to Mars is a success and there are several spacecraft which regularly go to Mars and back.

At this point, how feasible would it be to start exploring the rest of the solar system? Since the capacity of the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) would be about 100 people, it appears to be quite possible, although the crew would have to be reduced due to the increases in flight time. And what would be the potential targets for such missions anyway?

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ITS (to be renamed, I heard) as presented seems to bypass the health threats from microgravity and cosmic/Solar radiation by using a very short travel time to Mars. Nothing was mentioned about simulating gravity by rotation or using massive radiation shields. The further out one goes "naked", the more challenging it gets in these respects simply because of the longer travel time required.

The crew wouldn't necessarily have to be reduced, if water is recycled. Dried food storage is not heavy enough to be a significant factor.

Potential targets beyond Mars would be asteroids in the Asteroid Belt, Trojan asteroids of Jupiter, maybe moons of Jupiter outside of its intense radiation belts, moons of Saturn and other outer planets, comets. With the exception of some select asteroids at certain launch windows, all of those targets are very very much harder to reach than Mars. One might consider a space station simply orbiting the Sun somewhere.

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    $\begingroup$ The western world has become far too health and safety conscious. 600 years ago the crews of ocean explorers suffered scurvy and malnutrition and arrived half dead (or worse) at their destinations. We need a bit more of that pioneering spirit if we're gonna get anywhere. Once China starts recklessly shooting little flag waving tychonauts at Mars over and over in the hope one makes it the space race will pick up some speed for sure. Apollo 11 estimated their chances of surviving at about 50%. Nowadays we've come to think a 2% increase in astronauts risk for getting cancer is a showstopper. Pah! $\endgroup$ – Innovine Nov 23 '16 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Innovine I agree as far as to Mars. But beyond Mars you could really get common mutilations which aren't pretty. Especially in a confined space without good health care. ITS is not designed for that, just for quick naked trips to Mars. And I bet that the value of an individual life is increasing in China too as their GDP increases. That's cultural, how we humans work, and isn't that what is supposed to be "colonizing"? $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Nov 23 '16 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Innovine I think Apollo 11 estimated their chances of success as 50%, but chances of survival around 90% and both might have actually been higher. See the discussion here: space.stackexchange.com/questions/6361/… $\endgroup$ – Martin Modrák Mar 1 '17 at 11:23
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Going the other way, NASA has drawn up plans for an inflatable ship to harvest the upper atmosphere of Venus.

The first question is, "At this point, how feasible would it be to start exploring the rest of the solar system?" Very feasible.

The next question is, "And what would be the potential targets for such missions anyway?" Venus is one planet that is already under discussion for human exploration.

Venus at average closest point is 25 million miles, farthest at 162 million miles. Mars is closest at 34.8 million, farthest at 250 million miles.

Because I can not figure out why things are voted down put on hold or other things about this forum here are the links.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonization_of_Venus

http://www.popsci.com/nasa-envisions-cloud-city-above-venus-hellish-surface

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  • $\begingroup$ While this is interesting, your answer is rather off-topic for this question. This might be the reason why you got downvoted. Thanks for sharing, though! $\endgroup$ – JohnEye Feb 28 '17 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ Hopefully I will not break any rules by asking why this answer is off topic? $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya Feb 28 '17 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ Well, my question was about going farther than Mars, but after you've edited the answer, now I understand why you answered int his way. Guess I will upvote :-) And don't worry about the rules so much, it just takes a little while to figure out how to answer so that the community likes it. $\endgroup$ – JohnEye Feb 28 '17 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ Also, it is not just about the distances, it's more about the delta-v and time you need to get there. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta-v_budget#Interplanetary $\endgroup$ – JohnEye Feb 28 '17 at 19:23

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