NASA should send all-female crew to Mars because women more suited, say experts

The first man on Mars may not be a man at all following a deeper investigation into women in space.

As far back as the 1950s, a NASA study concluded that women are more suited to space travel than men. They tend to be smaller and lighter, for a start, and their reproductive systems, being less “out in the open” are less exposed to cosmic radiation.

Despite that knowledge, NASA bosses in the 1960s decided to select an all-male roster of astronauts.

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However, a new study, published in April in the research journal Nature Scientific Reports, says that the original 1959 report by Brigadier General Donald Flickinger and Dr. W. Randolph Lovelace II was entirely correct, and NASA should consider selecting all-female crews for long-range missions.

So far, only 76 women have travelled into space – less than 10% of the total number of astronauts.

But that’s set to change. Half of the astronauts selected for NASA’s Artemis program are women.

The new study, conducted at the ESA’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, says: “Female astronauts are set to play a significant role in future space exploration missions”.

It points out that women have lower body mass compared to males – reducing the fuel required to reach orbit – as well as lower oxygen consumption, as well as a lower risk of heart attack.

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The researchers add that – based on the original NASA tests – there is a strong “suggestion that females had better tolerance to cramped spaces and prolonged isolation”.

“It is critical,” the researchers says, “to consider whether the sex of the crew has an operationally meaningful effect upon estimated mission resources”.

With the 140 million-mile journey to Mars taking as much as seven months, and every single pound of payload critical, astronauts that are just as capable but eat less, consume less oxygen and – crucially – weigh less, could be NASA’s best choice.

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The first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova, back in 1963. The most recent was Anna Kikina in 2022.

NASA has already announced that a woman will be included in the crew of Artemis -3, which is expected to mark NASA’s return to the Moon in 2025.

The next step, the ESA researchers say, should be an all-female mission to Mars.

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