On January 15th, 2004 President Bush set forth a mission to revisit the moon and to have a manned mission to Mars with a target date of ten years. How he intended to accomplish this while draining the coffers of America with his war in Iraq was not explained. Originally the plan was to have a manned enclave on the moon to test new technology for the Mars mission, but an announcement by China and Russia to launch a mars mission, changed the priorities of America. If it was going to be a matter of one government on Earth claiming Mars and its resources for their country, it wasn't going to be Russia and China. Even the Pentagon was strongly behind this race.
Facing the reality of reaching the objective to put people on Mars, it became very apparent that getting them back to Earth and still launching before the Russians was going to be impossible. Suicide missions by American's have never been popular, and as far as the American people knew, there was always some chance of the people coming back. The Pentagon offered soldiers who were willing to die for their country, but statistical models showed that wouldn't fly with the public. A NASA engineer going on short term disability came up with the idea that proved to be the solution.
The odds against the astronauts being able to make a return trip were 87.359% to be exact. The panacea for the American public was the decision to have space capsule become a housing facility for future missions. The first astronauts would set up greenhouses to produce oxygen and food, and wait for the next mission to come and save them. The odds against that happening in reality were higher than the odds for a return trip, but those numbers never made it outside of secret conference rooms.
There was a mulititude of handicapped and disabled Americans who were going to die anyway, and wanted to do something to make their life count before dying. When the call went out to the "differently abled" Americans, the response was overwhelming. Also the reaction to their willingness to undertake such a dangerous mission, was unexpectedly embraced by the rest of Americans. The profile that was sought was a man or woman who was single or widowed, who had no children, who was disabled, but still capable of one or more specific funtions, and who was slightly narcissistic. The last one wasn't published, but they wanted people with an excessively high opinion of themself, who were more likely to push the envelope to be a hero than the average person.
Another side benefit was the diffusion of the sex problem. Flight time to Mars was six months, plus whatever time the astronauts managed to stay alive on Mars. Although NASA's policy had been don't ask, they knew of several members of the 200 mile high club. Even though many disabled people don't have sexual function problems, many do. The choice was made that any chosen must have a sexual dysfunction, and have had it for a while. The last thing they needed was for a child to be born on a mission with little chance of survival.
The profile of the disabled couldn't be of someone who's death was imminent, and might not last the training and the trip. It had to be some lingering death, that the participant would be glad to avoid that way of dying. All were given cyanide pills. As usual, when called upon, the Americans found a way, and won the race to Mars. It also changed the perception of the handicapped and disabled that were back on earth to the status of potential heros.