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Is the technology currently in place to launch a manned mission to Mars (and is it thus just a resource constraint that's preventing such a mission from occurring), or are there still other technologies we need to develop for this to be feasible? If so, what are they?

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  • $\begingroup$ Technology is not the issue any more. The problem is the commonly feared funding barrier, mostly. $\endgroup$ – s-m-e Jul 16 '13 at 21:18
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    $\begingroup$ Interestingly, while manned mission to Mars is viable, a permanent, sustainable base there is a considerable problem. I read (on Slashdot, if you have patience to seek the article) that space radiation damages eggs in female body, in such a way that the offspring would be dead. So, an essential component of such a mission would need to be a heavily shielded contained of frozen fertilized human egg cells and apparatus for implanting them in the colonists to to make the second generation of the population fertile. $\endgroup$ – SF. Jul 17 '13 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ Space radiation damages eggs in the female body and mars is very high in radiation. The length of time it takes to get there and long periods of time in space are dangerous to your health. $\endgroup$ – user1050 Nov 13 '13 at 18:22
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There is a fellow by the name of Robert Zubrin who has made a case by which humans could travel to Mars within existing (actually long existing) technology, and within NASA's existing budget.

If all his facts are correct, then there is no technological or financial barrier to landing humans on Mars.

The Case For Mars

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  • $\begingroup$ what about radiation? on Mars is very high. $\endgroup$ – user55 Jul 16 '13 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ @trapo, Not higher than on the moon. Only a problem if there is a solar flare (SEP event) $\endgroup$ – user39 Jul 16 '13 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ The radiation on Mars is not terribly high since even that thin atmosphere does a pretty good job at attenuation -- the radiation is much higher in space when in transit. However it's still a small risk compared to successfully making it there and back. $\endgroup$ – Mark Adler Nov 13 '13 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ @user39 Link-only answers are discouraged on the stackexchange network. Your answer would be more helpful when you would write a bit about the content of the book you reference. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Nov 15 '13 at 8:48
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Given the money and the time, most of the required technology is already available. The one exception is that we do not have the technology today to land very large payloads on Mars, specifically in the 20 tonne to 40 tonne range, as is required in published human Mars mission architectures. This report states:

These interactions are most evident for the development and evolution of human class EDL for Mars. The approach that will be used to land tens of metric tons of payload on Mars is not known today, and cannot be known purely through paper studies. Only through technology development can the large uncertainties that exist today be reduced in the design of such a mission in order to begin to converge on the most cost effective and reliable combination of systems.

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