There has been a lot of talk recently about how some think the next target for our manned space exploration should be Mars. But if you examine the details about time and distance, and consider the limitations of our rocket technology, there’s a compelling case for sending women. And maybe it should be only women.
If you think it through, women would have an advantage for four reasons —
- Women are generally smaller, so the rocket would have less to lift. They would eat less, require fewer support resources, and produce less waste. The weight savings would be substantial during a multiyear mission.
- Although more research needs to be done, women suffer less from the some of the more problematic physiological effects of space travel. For example, men tend to develop vision and hearing problems. Women do have a higher incidence of urinary tract infections, but that happens on Earth.
- Women may be better suited psychologically for long space journeys. Data to support this idea come from Earth-bound experiences like desert treks and Antarctic winter-overs. What we’ve found so far is that men do better in short-term, goal-oriented circumstances, while women have an advantage in habitation situations over a longer term. So the traits critical for longer missions are more characteristic of women.
- But what about establishing a permanent colony? Wouldn’t men be required to grow the population? Well, yes and no. You need men, but the male contribution can be frozen in a tiny vial. So why send the entire body?
And if you’re thinking this is a break from the past, to date about 11 percent of the crew members who have actually flown into space have been female.
If you don’t believe this, check out “Here’s why women may be the best suited for spaceflight” by Nadia Drake at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2019/07/space-travel-four-ways-women-are-a-better-fit-than-men/.