Picture this. In the year 2024, a human colony will be established on Mars. The selection process will be very rigorous, and only a chosen few will get to go. The only catch: we only have the technology to get these bold space adventurers there; there is no coming back.
Sounds like a compelling enough premise for a piece of science fiction. But what if you take away the “fiction” component? Apparently this is a very real possibility.
Enter the “Mars One” project. I’ve read enough about this, from enough different and reliable sources, that I don’t believe it’s simply another Jimmy Kimmel prank. The website appears to be both legit and 100% serious. They’ve even made a documentary about several of the viable applicants. See “Mars One Way” at http://vimeo.com/87916326
It was an article and excerpt about this documentary that truly got me thinking. If you picture in your mind, from scratch, the type of person who would be genuinely interested in actually going to Mars for the rest of forever, I don’t know who you come up with. Do you picture men or women? How old? What careers do they have? What is their background? Level of education? Do they have families?
I didn’t have a chance to think about it before reading the article or doing some research, but the only possible people I could picture signing up for this would be single, male, middle-aged, loner/nerdy scientist types. Not the case.
Of the viable candidates being considered, several are women, and one of the main characters in the documentary clip I saw was a happily married father, with young children. Basically, he will be choosing Mars or his family. And he seems to be leaning pretty heavily in the direction of Mars, though he concedes that if his young son were to ask him directly to please stay, that could be a game changer. Could be. Can you even imagine?
I think the reason I can’t stop thinking about this is because, no, I absolutely cannot imagine. Especially for this young father. You will get on that spaceship and literally never see your family again. For all practical intents and purposes, you are dead to them. What kind of sane, rational, healthy person voluntarily does that?
Furthermore, frankly, I know I would never, ever, under any circumstances, do this. Being launched into space with not only the possibility, but the absolute certainty that I will never return actually sounds like a just about perfect description of my own personal hell. Did any of you see Space Camp? That movie scared the crap out of me!
So, so many questions. What happens if you get sick out there? Run out of food? What if, halfway to Mars you decide “shoot, I made a horrible mistake. Let’s turn this bad boy around?” What laws govern? Ethics? Morals? And what about aliens? Seriously.
This may never actually happen, or maybe it will. Either way, I will be tuning in. This is like reality TV on an entirely different level.