Space travel comes with a vast number of risks. The crew on board the Erikson, the name of our hypothetical spacecraft (I will probably go over the name in the near future, unless you can work it out), will face not only physical problems from the environment they will call home for 6 to 8 months but personal challenges involving their mental well-being.
Human beings are a rather enduring species. We have scaled great heights and explored even greater depths in the name of discovery, science and accomplishment. In these instances, we have overcome serious challenges. In comparison, Space is a whole new ball game of challenges.
Homeostasis – Humans survive best in certain conditions that reside under the umbrella term of homeostasis. We effectively need to be kept at a certain temperature, water content, sugar level and more to maintain a stable, constant condition in our bodies. As our trip is going to be over an extended period of time with incredibly limited access, maintaining these conditions is both essential and challenging.
Mental Well-being – Though the crew will not be completely isolated from humanity, their social circles are going to shrink astronomically. They are going to be cut off from the majority of their friends and family on an expedition thwart with countless risks. It would be harsh to assume that this wouldn’t have an effect on any or all the crew members. Physical health is a fundamental part of this operation’s success but so is mental health.
Team work – The crew need to be able to work together to ensure that they all survive. However large our crew ends up being, the relationships they have need to ensure that everything within their control runs smoothly.
The crew are an essential element of forming the colony but the vessel they use to get there is also crucial. No spaceship, no colony. The demands of our crew mean the Eriksson is going to have to surpass all previous vessels in terms of size and function.
Size – Without a shadow of a doubt, the Eriksson is going to have to be huge. It not only has to house life support systems for all the crew members including supplies and work spaces but it may also have to carry up building materials, equipment and more. The building site of such a ship may not even be on our planet.
Energy – For the ship to reach Mars, conventional power sources aren’t going to cut it. We will need a system that can sustain a space craft for the entire journey there and back. It may also have to act as a temporary base of operations upon arrival. It’s going need an awful lot of energy.
Life Support – As mentioned above, the crew’s conditions need to be kept stable and the ship will have to ensure this is reached. It will have to provide a steady supply of oxygen, house all their food and ensure they have areas to sleep and live. It also has to be durable enough to resist the problems posed by space travel.
This is far from an exhaustive list of requirements but they cover most of the big problems the crew and ship have to overcome (Feel free to suggest your own in the comments). In the first section of our voyage we are going to explore these problems in greater detail and, moreover, examine possible solutions. If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.
I am going to be away for the next week so I probably won’t be able to post a great deal (Noted, I haven’t been posting a great deal whilst at home but now I have a valid reason). If I do get to do any blogging next week it will most likely be travel related stuff (I may even try my hand at some photography).