One Way Ticket to Mars?

Well, here’s a lesson in funny timing.

On the very day I post “The Cult-TV faces of:  The Displaced Astronaut,” The Associated Press reports the controversial idea of a “one-way trip to Mars.”

The more I think about this idea, the more I like it, and believe it might actually make sense at this point in our national history.

Here’s a snippet:

PULLMAN, Wash. – Invoking the spirit of “Star Trek” in a scholarly article entitled “To Boldly Go,” two scientists contend human travel to Mars could happen much more quickly and cheaply if the missions are made one-way. They argue that it would be little different from early settlers to North America, who left Europe with little expectation of return.
This idea appeals to me for a few reasons. 

First, the space program needs an exciting new mission, and if this doesn’t take the cake, I don’t know what would.  I recently watched The Right Stuff, and wondered how we could re-ignite enthusiasm for space travel. 

This idea might just be that opportunity. 

As a nation, we could all pull together (putting aside petty partisan differences) as the press follows a team of highly-qualified astronauts and “pioneers” for months, even years.  We would watch them train, prepare and evolve.  We would follow them during launch, arrival, and the tough starting days on the Red Planet.  Not that their traumas would be casual entertainment…but our country needs heroes right now.  And that’s what these pioneers would be.

This sort of mission would also revolutionize the astronaut training process, and even, perhaps re-imagine our definition of the very word “astronaut.”  Remember the original premise of Lost in Space, and the idea of a family of pioneers preparing to take to the stars?  Why can’t we make that happen?  Could we send healthy, well-prepared family units?

Secondly, I think the “pioneer” idea is ultimately the right way to go because it represents the mind set we need in order to take the first meaningful steps off this Earth. 

Those who head off to another world must begin to think of that new, hostile terrain as home.  They must solve problems, expand the population, reclaim the landscape, and learn a whole new set of rules with that very paradigm in mind. 

If these brave pioneers know there is no safe return to Earth, I believe humans will do everything possible to survive on another world…and succeed beyond our wildest imagination.   Meanwhile, here on Earth, we can support our faraway brothers and sisters with regular supplies, construction materials and new rounds of “arrivals.”

Is this approach dangerous?  Of course it is; but that’s never prevented brave explorers in the past.    Let’s boldly go. 

What do you think?  Is this just an exciting sci-fi premise, or does this approach offer real potential? 


6 responses to “One Way Ticket to Mars?

  1. >John, Funny, I was just thinking about this again should check out the Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. Fits neatly into this idea.

  2. >Hi Rick,Should we volunteer to go to Mars with our families? If I can blog from Mars, I'm in…best,JKM

  3. >John,So funny you brought up this topic. I read this article about a week ago called Who Killed The Space Race? by Adam Roberts.The gist of it was that we had essentially done these amazing things and yet it's becoming ancient history like the pyramids or something. That setting foot on Mars or the moon seems more and more like a pipedream.Going into space wasn't something we do or would do ,but "something our ancestors did." It sounds absolutely insane doesn't it.For the love of God, would someone jumpstart a space program before the dream is completely gone. The writer calls it "withered and dead." It's a sad state.It's an interesting, entertaining article and one in which he closes with the plea that he would "happily sell my granny to reignite the dream."Good piece, his and yours. Nothing like a strong entry to get the mind moving and who knows, maybe a controversial idea like this that might prove to be something. Someone, somewhere needs to take some risks.

  4. >Hi SFF:We are in total agreement. I love your comment.Something must be done to "jumpstart" the future we all dresmed of as kids of the 60s, 70s and 80s. This could be the thing!I wish, collectively and nationally, — as you say, this is a risk we would take!Thank you for the comment,JKM

  5. I absolutely love this idea! I have been on a huge deep space sci fi kick lately so the thought of colonizing another planet sounds incredible.

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