Humans to Mars: A feasibility and cost-benefit analysis

Bethany L. Ehlmann, Jeeshan Chowdhury, Timothy C. Marzullo, R. Eric Collins, Julie Litzenberger, Stuart Ibsen, Wendy R. Krauser, Brandon Dekock, Michael Hannon, Jessica Kinnevan, Rebekah Shepard, F. Douglas Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Mars is a compelling astrobiological target, and a human mission would provide an opportunity to collect immense amounts of scientific data. Exploration alone, however, cannot justify the increased risk. Instead, three factors drive a human mission: economics, education, and exploration. A human mission has a unique potential to inspire the next generation of young people to enter critically needed science and engineering disciplines. A mission is economically feasible, and the research and development program put in place for a human mission would propel growth in related high-technology industries. The main hurdles are human physiological responses to 1-2 years of radiation and microgravity exposure. However, enabling technologies are sufficiently mature in these areas that they can be developed within a few decade timescale. Hence, the decision of whether or not to undertake a human mission to Mars is a political decision, and thus, educational and economic benefits are the crucial factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-858
Number of pages8
JournalActa Astronautica
Issue number9-12
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes
EventLiving in Space: Scientific, Medical and Cultural Implications. A Selection of Papers Presented at the 14th IAA Humans in Space Symposium -
Duration: May 18 2003May 22 2003


  • Feasibility
  • Human
  • Mars
  • Mission
  • Political
  • Technical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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