Okay, this is going to be a small rant, but it should be a good read. I'm also attempting to appeal to reason and see if people agree or disagree with me. Please let me know regardless!
I've seen lots of programs and read a lot about various missions from NASA, the ESA (European Space Agency) and the Russian program, and they always talk about the risk to lives. It's currently estimated with all things considered with up to date technology a 3 year mission to Mars, including over a year on the surface to have a fatality rate of about 1 in 5. In other words, 20%. They claim this risk is too great to astronaut lives. I believe the reason they are worried about it is the damage to the space programs if astronauts were to die because I'm sure many would take that risk. I would not bet all my possessions on a poker hand with an 80% chance of winning, but for the chance to be the first human on another planet? Oh hell yes!
There are a number of different propellant technologies that have not been tested enough to be considered safe for these space agencies to use. Some of them can get the travel time down to weeks, thus cutting the trip time, radiation exposure, risk of random medical emergency, and gravitational body damage down immensely. Why not try to use such a system? If the odds are 1 in 5 I can get a team of people willing to risk their lives in 10 minutes. Well, they might not want to take someone like me, because my first words on the planet's surface would not be something so epic as Neil Armstrong. Can they deal with me saying "Hi, my name's Commander Shepard and this is my favorite planet in the solar system?"
So what do you guys think? Do our space agencies need a 98% chance of success before attempting to broaden the human footprint?