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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Living on Mars?

by Pete Codella (bio)

I listened recently to the radio with fascination as a spokesperson for the Mars One Foundation spoke about their effort to colonize Mars with humans in 2023; in just 10 years. They’re currently accepting applications from earthlings interested in a one-way trip to the Red Planet.

She described all the technology, partners and preparations now underway to make the human mission to Mars a reality. She said in no uncertain terms that it will happen.

When questioned about why they would want to send humans to live on Mars, her response shocked me.

Before I tell you what she said, you should know that I am a Star Wars and Star Trek fan. I’m not a fanatic, but I always see and enjoy the movies. I also believe space exploration will continue to be part of our existence.

But when she described the Mars One mission as: “A natural and logical extension of our existence,” I laughed out loud.

Seriously? It’s natural for humans to leave Earth on a rocket ship to Mars with no plans to ever return? To live out the remainder of their life in pods on a different planet–one she called “the least hostile” after Earth? Logical? No contact with family? No more experience provided by being born and living on Earth?

The whole one-way ticket thing seems as natural to me as a sex change.

Later, I had to check out the organization’s website, which reads:
"The Mars One Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars in 2023.

"A reliable surface habitat will be set up before the first crew lands; more settlers and cargo will follow every two years.

"Our plan is realistic because the technology needed already exists and can be purchased from the private space industry.

"The first footprint on Mars will fascinate and inspire generations; it is this public interest that will help finance this human mission to Mars. Join our global effort by sharing our vision with your friends, supporting us and perhaps becoming a Mars astronaut yourself."
Do you know how they plan to fund the mission? By chronicling the whole thing–preparations, transportation, landing, settling, and eventually dying on Mars–in a reality TV show. They’re promising the biggest media event in earth’s history. A reality show that’ll make Survivor, Big Brother and The Amazing Race combined pale in comparison.

They’ll accept no government money. The mission will not be political. Just private. And just crazy.

1972: The last time a human walked on the moon; the furthest distance from Earth reached by humans
August 2013: The deadline to apply to be part of the first crew (they say they have ~80,000 applicants to-date)
2016: Mars One sends a communications satellite to Mars
2018: A planetary rover arrives on Mars
2020: Living and life support units are delivered (probably not by UPS)
September 2022: The carefully selected, biologically near-perfect 4-person crew departs for Mars
April 2023: They land on Mars to officially begin colonization
And us Earthlings will get to view the entire thing on TV. Check out their introduction film on YouTube.

Seriously, does any human think it would be natural and logical to leave planet Earth on a one-way trip to Mars?
No Vulcan would.

If we were supposed to live on Mars, perhaps we would have been born there. You think?

I’m all for space exploration. I support the space station and admire the astronauts who travel there, make their contribution, and travel back home.

The traveling back home part is a big differentiator for me.

Judging from how the radio interview piqued my interest, I’m sure I’ll be one of those people who can’t wait to check-in online, follow on Twitter and watch the Mars One reality TV show. Just think of all the firsts they'll create.

Maybe I’ll start a similar project to chronicle my own efforts to build and use a time machine.

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