Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mars One, Part One

Recently, Bas Lansdorp , the CEO of Mars One, wrote an interesting article on Space.com about the risks of radiation for humans traveling to Mars. For those of you who haven't heard of Mars One, it is an organization that intends to send humans on a one way colonization trip to Mars by 2023.

Understandably, the attempt faces numerous technical challenges, one of which is radiation. Bas Lansdorp does a good job explaining how the mission would deal with the issue, which bolsters my hope that it might actually work.

I've had ups and downs with my feelings towards Mars One. I think their goal is admirable. Its a small step towards attaining the stars, which for me, as a sci-fi writer and dreamer, is very exciting and nesscescary for the human race. Colonizing the solar system is a good first step in the pusuit of the stars, but to my mind, the Moon might be a better place to start. Also, Mars One's method of funding (advertising revenue gained through a reality TV broadcast of the mission), sort of disgusts me. Should the progress of the human race be funded by Pepsi, Sprint, GoDaddy.com, and whoever else decides to drop enough cash to forward their corporate image on the backs of brave pioneers? Is the colonization of Mars on the same level as the Super Bowl?

At times, the whole thing has smelled like a scam or hoax to me. I still hold out hope however, hope it's real and hope they make it happen. It seems too good to be true: Mars in my lifetime.

They opened the application process for astronauts a couple months back and I decided to apply. When I went to the application page, it informed me there was a $38 application fee. This immediately turned me off. My internal scam alarm sounded and I decided not to go forward with it. Plenty of people have applied and made donations, so if it is a scam, it's one that people want to believe in.

Which leads me to another thought: If it gets people thinking and dreaming about space like we did during the race for the Moon and inspires a new generation of engineers and innovators to think about the stars, then perhaps its worth the money.

There are a lot of challenges facing humanity on Earth at this point in history, but being too nearsighted and ignoring the future has dangers of its own. Extinction, via asteroid impact, is a very real possibility if our entire species is on one planet.

I have more to say about Mars One, so I think I'll have another post or two dedicated to it. In the meanwhile, I'd love to know your thoughts about it!

Love life,
ZW

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