First Crewed Mission to Mars Should Be All-Female
Men have crewed every mission to the Moon so far, but when we finally send humans to Mars it would be wise to send only women — at least at first. This may sound like a radical suggestion, but the available evidence suggests that women would be more efficient and capable crewmembers on long-duration missions away from Earth.
NASA scientist Geoffrey Landis argued that women are more practical and efficient crew members for deep space crewed missions to Mars due to their physical characteristics. Women are on average smaller and lighter than men, which means they use less oxygen, consume fewer consumables, produce less carbon dioxide, and take up less volume. This means that an all-female crew would require considerably less support, which would allow for a smaller spacecraft and a considerable saving in cost for a crewed mission to Mars.
A recent study conducted by scientists with the Space Medicine Team at the European Space Agency found that the average female astronaut requires 26% fewer calories, 29% less oxygen, and 18% less water than the average male. This translates to sizeable resource savings. For instance, a 1,080-day space mission crewed by four women would need 1,695 fewer kilograms of food compared to an all-male mission. This amounts to approximately 10% of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket’s payload to Mars. The saved space could be filled with additional scientific projects and equipment, which would ensure a safe and successful mission.
Besides physical practicality, there are psychological reasons why women might be better suited to extended crewed missions to Mars. Women tend to choose non-confrontational approaches to solve interpersonal problems, and they are less likely to resort to violence, which could be a big problem on a Mars journey, where the crew must live in close quarters for two to three years. Numerous sociological studies have shown that women, in general, are more cooperative and less hierarchical in social structures, making them ideal crew members for a long-duration crewed mission to Mars
History of Women in Space NASA’s Special Committee on Life Sciences, chaired by Dr. W. Randolph Lovelace II and Brigadier General Don D. Flickinger, made the pragmatic case for female astronauts in the late 1950s. Lovelace and Flickinger noted that women are lighter, require less oxygen, and have fewer heart attacks, while their reproductive systems are less at risk from radiation. However, they were overruled amid the era’s prevailing sexism, and it took until 1983 for Sally Ride to become the first American woman in space.
More than 60 years ago, the Women in Space Program put 19 female aviators through astronaut training, subjecting them to more onerous testing than NASA gave to the original Mercury 7 astronauts. The 13 women who passed arguably topped the men both physically and psychologically. This program demonstrated that women are more than capable of becoming astronauts and crew members for space missions.
Future Missions to Mars NASA has plans for a crewed mission to Mars, likely to occur in 2029 at the very earliest. This mission will require every advantage possible, so it only makes sense that an all-female team should be the first to step onto the red planet. Such a mission would be a significant milestone for women in space and a testament to their capability and practicality for long-duration missions away from Earth.
In conclusion, the evidence strongly suggests that an all-female crew would be more efficient and capable of handling long-duration crewed missions to Mars. While the idea of an all-female crew may sound radical, it is a practical and efficient decision that could save valuable resources and ensure a safe and successful crewed mission to Mars. The future of space exploration will undoubtedly involve more women, and this is a step in the right direction towards achieving greater gender equality in the field.