I have watched several episodes of Mars Rising
on the Science Channel. The series makes it clear that a voyage to Mars would be too dangerous to the crew, given the current state of technology
. Maybe the spacecraft could provide a kind of artificial gravity (by rotating part or all of the ship). Still, there would no way to provide protection for the crew against cosmic rays. Imagine all your astronauts returning home from Mars with the bones of 80-year olds plus cancer throughout their bodies.
I would favor further R & D, but not committing to manned voyage to Mars for at least another 50 years. Why not just concentrate on exploring the moon for the next few decades?
Incidentally, on the Fox News Channel today, Bill O'Reilly asked Rep. Barney Frank where the money for nationalized health care would come from. Frank suggested that he'd take money away from a manned Mars project (among other things like defense), though he does approve of unmanned
space exploration. NASA, watch your wallet.