Another dumb article on why spaceflight is bad for you
The way these people don't think about the solutions is breathtaking
As reported in Science Daily, some biologists writing in the Journal of ' Biology are warning that travel to Mars and other planets may not be a good idea because "spaceflight weakens the immune system" and "harmful bacteria proliferate under spaceflight conditions."
One has to wonder what these people mean by "spaceflight conditions." Almost certainly, what they mean is zero gravity. Certainly, the Russians discovered all sorts of nasty bugs growing in their air conditioning during the Mir missions, and it's been known for decades that sealed living environments do breed bacteria. Also, cosmic rays and other forms of radiation encountered in space are mutagenic.
But really, people, think! This doesn't mean that space flight is intrinsically dangerous. It means that badly shielded tin-can environments that aren't spun for gravity are a bad idea. And that is quite a different conclusion.
Prolonged exposure to zero gravity weakens the immune system, so don't expose astronauts to prolonged zero gravity. Invest in some research into how to spin the spacecraft. Then spin the spacecraft.
Secondly, shield the damn things. The only reason why radiation is considered an issue is because it's expensive to transport heavy shielding into orbit. One solution would be to use lunar water; simply put bags of the stuff around the ship. That makes it heavier and hence requires more fuel... but now the problem can be seen for what it is, a simple problem of launch costs.
Spaceflight is not bad for our health. Cut-rate spaceflight that avoids the obvious solutions is.
One way to start boot-strapping ourselves off-world is for better space-access via a good design. NASA is really good at Big Dumb Rockets - witness "Constellation" as successor to the Shuttle - but has no commercial sensitivity. A true space-access design would operate like a plane and IMO the SKYLON design of Reaction Engines Ltd. is one system that could do it. That's something the Shuttle could never have done even in the most optimistic scenarios of its operation.
But what could justify a fleet of highly reusable spaceplanes? Solar Power Satellites?