Back in grad school, one of the mandatory sessions for EE grad students was a presentation by a NASA scientist, who was pushing for a manned flight to Mars before the year 2000 to take advantage of close proximity between the two planets that wouldn't exist for quite a while thereafter.
Fast forward 15 years, and NASA figures out that (oops!) the radiation encountered during such a flight would likely kill any astronauts unlucky enough to start it. That's my objection to NASA in a nutshell; lots of blue sky, but when it comes down to figuring out the likely problems, they're just as incompetent as any other government agency.
(possible fix for the problem; build any spacecraft around a magnet to produce a field like the Earth's--but that would end up making it a LOT heavier. Ooops)
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