We’re all clamoring to get into space these days, but lost in our excitement to fly to the Moon and colonize Mars is a brutal truth: the final frontier is a cold, inhospitable wasteland that’ll kill you at the first opportunity it gets. Astronauts already know this, but for the rest of us, here are just a few of the potentially lethal dangers faced by spacefaring pioneers.
You might not want to book that trip to Mars just yet. Researchers have published a study estimating that the risk of cancer from cosmic rays is twice as high as previously thought. They’ve determined that conventional risk models are incomplete. While NASA and other groups believe that radiation-based cancer stems only from direct cell damage and mutations, the new model accounts for the possibility that heavily damaged cells will increase the cancer risk for “bystander” cells. There’s a knock-on effect that would be difficult to escape.
Using a giant set of lasers to catapult thousands of miniature spacecraft 25 trillion miles to the Alpha Centauri star system may sound like the stuff of science fiction.
In a major step forward for crewed commercial spaceflight, NASA has contracted private rocket company SpaceX to blast astronauts off US soil beginning in 2017.