Proposed Mars Missions Challenge NASA Health Standards, Panel Warns

Mars travelers face higher health risks than earlier astronauts did.

The Institute of Medicine panel said the agency should not revise the standards wholesale, but should make exceptions for long space trips only on a "mission by mission" basis, after a heightened ethics review that weighs the social benefits of the mission against the cost to the astronauts. On their return, the astronauts should also be guaranteed lifetime health benefits, the panel said.

NASA is considering sending astronauts to lasso an asteroid in 2021 and to Mars sometime in the 2030s. It is already spending roughly $1 billion a year on the Orion space capsules for such missions, with the high cost driven in part by safety standards, according to a 2013 agency inspector general's audit.

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