Manned Martian flights threaten to render spacemen sterile, warns a major space physician.
"A flight to the Red Planet and back will certainly destroy the reproductive function, what with long exposure to hard radiation. Weightlessness, too, will have its effect causing muscular atrophy and excreting calcium from the bones," Dr. Valeri Polyakov said to our reporter in the lobby during an international gravitation physiology symposium, underway in Moscow.
As he sees it, to qualify as Martian trailblazer, a spaceman ought to be no younger than sixty. "It would be unwise and downright cruel to send selfless boys to Mars, even if they have a long space record."
When asked whether he would venture himself, Dr. Polyakov replied: "Sure! I am sixty-two now, and my wife will certainly consent. 'There's no way to keep you home,' she often says."
The expert thinks astronaut John Glenn would make him the best possible company for the flight. "John made a flight at seventy-seven, and is in the best of health now. 'How about going to Mars, the two of us?' I asked him once. 'I'd do it even today if I had you for company,' was what he said."
Valeri Polyakov is many years' world flight length record holder after he spent 438 days at the Mir orbital station to make a Guinness Book gem.