Because of the severe dangers, human space exploration has been a cautious effort of testing, taking small steps, and more testing. This has prevented many accidents and, no doubt, saved many lives.
The downside to this approach is that it greatly expands the time scale to tangible results and adds tremendous costs to the programs. The goal of zero risk is honorable, but utterly unachievable.
While risk must be minimized, the failure avoidance model often results in failure delay, where a disaster occurs when people are lulled into a false sense of safety based on a lack of failure.
The Mars Mission 2016 is based on the experience we have gained in decades of space occupation, but leaps over some of the barriers created by over testing new designs simply because they are new. We have built in an expectation of some failures, including the possibility of the loss of human life. Exploration is inherently unsafe, but the lessons we learn from failure is absolutely necessary for success.
For this mission we are making the following major leaps in space exploration:
Chemical reaction engines have been the heart and soul of space travel to date. It is a reliable and well tested method of propulsion. It also is extremely restrictive. It is equivalent to restricting exploring the ocean but only for as long as a human can hold their breath.
More robust methods of propulsion have been proposed and researched, but rejected because a chemical reaction engine was the path of least resistance. For this mission, we are using explosion-type propulsion as it removes weight and time issues that inherent in chemical reaction propulsion.
A mission to Mars has always assumed that weight must be kept at a minimum. This mission will not be based on weight minimums because the propulsion method is capable of mobilizing massive vehicles. This allows the parameters of the mission to be greatly expanded.
Construction in Alien Environments
The International Space Station was built in component pieces. This reduced the time and expense of awkward and physically exhausting construction in a space suit environment.
However, the components still relied on physical human labor to connect the components. This mission will utilize components that have the ability to self-construct without human labor. This will save time and avoid unnecessary risk to humans.
Multiple Missions In One Mission
Rather than taking a cautious test-move forward-test-move forward approach, this program will attempt to achieve the equivalent of at least ten missions in its first mission. The multiple missions normally required to test new equipment will be bundled into this mission, and the ‘baby steps’ approach to space exploration will be replace with ‘shock and awe’ exploration that is designed to establish human occupation of space, not merely timid steps in the shallows.
Health and Space Travel
Issues of weightlessness and radiation on the human body create unacceptable health risks to human astronauts. This mission will use an artificial gravity environment and dynamic radiation shielding that will reduce the risk. In addition, orbital transfer time will be reduced by one quarter to one third which will not only limit astronaut exposure to cosmic radiation, but also will save in consumables needed for the ship and crew.