Should we use genetically modified astronauts to reach Mars?


At the International Astronautical Congress last September, in Guadalajara, Mexico, Elon Musk convinced many die-hard space engineers he could get a fleet of private rockets filled with thousands of people to Mars.

Recently, a few scientists have started to explore whether we might be able to do a little better if we created new types of humans more fit for the travails of space travel. That’s right: genetically modified astronauts.

No one is trying to grow an astronaut in a bubbling vat somewhere. But some far-out ideas once relegated to science fiction and TED Talks (here and here) have recently started to take concrete form. Experiments have begun to alter human cells in the lab. Can they be made radiation-proof? Can they be rejiggered to produce their own vitamins and amino acids?

Creating astronauts able to make their own essential nutrients would obviously be immensely complicated. Yet as complex as it is, it might be less challenging than the alternatives, such as terraforming a planet or bringing along a space ring complete with an atmosphere, plants, and livestock grazing overhead.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Engineering the Perfect Astronaut

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