How to get to Mars

If you thought robotic snakes were creepy, you should check out this (very serious) proposal for how to make a “manned” Mars trip a reality.

Will humans ever really go to Mars? Let’s face it, the obstacles are quite daunting. Not only are there numerous, difficult, technical issues to overcome, but the political will and perseverance of any one nation to undertake such an arduous task just can’t be counted on. However, one former NASA engineer believes a human mission to Mars is quite doable, and such an event would unify the world as never before. But Jim McLane’s proposal includes a couple of major caveats: the trip to Mars should be one-way, and have a crew of only one person.

It actually makes sense, in a way. After all, according to all science fiction stories, no one ever makes it back from Mars (intact, still human, untransmogrified, etc.) anyway. So why bother with all that extra fuel and stuff to make it home?

“When we eliminate the need to launch off Mars, we remove the mission’s most daunting obstacle,” said McLane. And because of a small crew size, the spacecraft could be smaller and the need for consumables and supplies would be decreased, making the mission cheaper and less complicated.

i-6ffc6137b5ab9cef097cb6a93fca59d0-couple_in_space.jpgMcLane has an interesting, and very odd perspective on this idea. He claims that people will line up to do this job. Others have done this sort of thing before. He claims that getting on a one way space ship to mars is no different from climbing a mountain. There are risks either way, and people are willing to take those risks.

However, most people plan on at least having coming home as a possibility, rather than having NOT coming home built in, on the list of things to do.

  • Check oxygen tanks
  • Check scientific equipment
  • Blast off on Sunday
  • Go to Mars
  • Never ever return

Right…

“I think people have forgotten how exciting the Apollo program was, and this would bring that excitement back,” he said. “And it wasn’t just here in the US; the whole world was excited. This enthusiasm would be the greatest effect of a program that places a man on Mars, over and above anything else, whether it makes jobs, or stimulates the economy, or creates technology spinoffs. We’re all humans and the idea of sending one of our kind on a trip like that would be a wonderful adventure for the entire world. The whole world would get behind it.”

Yeah, right. I think the whole world is going to get behind something, but not sending someone to Mars forever. The whole world will get behind having McLane committed.

Or, perhaps, the whole world will get behind sending HIM as the Guy who Never Returned…

McLane thinks NASA is at fault for not even considering a one-way mission to Mars. “For over forty years they’ve studied all sorts of options, but haven’t admitted to ever looking at a one-way mission to Mars,” he said. “We shouldn’t be stuck on this rock forever. I believe it’s in our human nature to try to go somewhere else, and we’ve almost worn this world out. I think now is the time to reach out and go somewhere else to start with a clean slate. There is no reason not to try.”

He does not get it. “Getting off the planet” is usually associated with colonizing other worlds. McLane should read the history of the Shakers, who colonized the New World but with a special twist: They had a rule against sex. You don’t see a lot of Shakers around these days. (Though they made nice furniture.)

Now, sending TWO people to Mar, that could work.


SOURCE

Comments

  1. #1 Homie Bear
    March 7, 2008

    I tend to agree with him- I believe there would be thousands of applicants for the job- and some of them would be of sound mind. But what could a one-man mission accomplish that unmanned missions couldn’t? Why not send some of your robot snakes?

  2. #2 Cherish
    March 7, 2008

    A one way mission sounds cool…but what he’s talking about is exile. You can’t send just one person. It certainly doesn’t have any financial justification, and it won’t promote any commitment to keep sending more.

  3. #3 kevin
    March 8, 2008

    I’m with Homie Bear on this. I think plenty of people of sound mind would agree to a one way trip, especially if there was some plausible plan for an extended stay — re-supply ever few years, say, or a plan for local resource extraction and food growth. If I didn’t have a family, I’d seriously consider it. It isn’t a death sentence, it is exploration and isolation, with no return trip.

    Now, a one-person + one-way trip would probably be a deal breaker for me — I’d want some human company, and I imagine most people would too, at least two or three other people preferably.

    But even so, even under the most extreme scenario (one way, one person, with a short and finite length before guaranteed resource exhaustion and death), I bet you could find a few takers. There really are people willing to sacrifice themselves for something they believe in. And not just the crazies.

  4. #4 MaxieZ
    March 8, 2008

    Maybe there can be a sequel: Joe vs the red planet

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    March 8, 2008

    I’ve been thinking about this more. I think you need to send two or three females already impregnated with fertilized eggs, such that each egg and sperm, and the two or three females, are all very unrelated. That way you are starting off with a highly diverse genome. A small number of the fertilized eggs should be males, and a stash of genetically diverse frozen sperm should be on board.

    Of course, the equipment to quickly set up extraction sites (for fundamentals like food, air, and water) had already been sent and some of the machines are already in place and running.

    No, no, no, we can’t send Robot Snakes. That would simply enrage the Martians. We don’t need that…

  6. #6 Nomen Nescio
    March 8, 2008

    i’d go on that trip, happily. sure it’s a (long term) death sentence, but nobody gets out of life alive, and that’d be one helluva way to go.

    the hardest part’d be the isolation, for me. i’d want a way to keep e-mail pen pals, at least. the one-way nature of the trip wouldn’t bother me, though.

  7. #7 Tim
    March 10, 2008

    How much would it cost? Dollars and resources? Is Earth a lost cause? Maybe we should concentrate all that effort, timemoneyenergy, on ways to improve or, dare I say, save this planet. Lots of talk about billion dollar trips to Mars. I am scared when space exploration is seriously investigated and funded. No one ever balks at the cost nor considers a close to home focus. Of course I scare easily and tend to generalize.