I’ve signed up to be a candidate for a Martian colony. Okay, I’m actually just on an email list, but I’m seriously considering this. Mars One is a non-profit organization with a goal to establish a human settlement on the “Big Red Planet” by 2023. So far, they have a goal and a web site – and not much else. But hey, why not dream big?! That’s what prompted our ancestors to move north out of Africa and sail across the vast oceans of this planet. This falls in line with an essay I wrote last year, where I included the prospect of sending people to Mars. With the current budget deficits and political wrangling here in the U.S., that won’t happen anytime soon.
Thus enters Mars One, a Dutch-based entity that has joined with the for-profit Interplanetary Media Group to raise money for the mission. They don’t just want to launch a spacecraft to Mars for a brief visit; they actually establish a permanent settlement. As of January, Mars One has secured funding from Trifork BV, another Dutch company that “is a leading full service supplier of high-quality custom-built applications for organizations primarily in” education, research and government non-profit. That’s amazing. A country known for its tulips and marijuana cafes actually has the temerity to create companies with such grand visions.
But, the first stage for Mars One is conceptual design. They have to convene a gallery of talented engineers and architects to visualize what Martian structures would look like and how they would function. They have to consider air, heating, cooling and insomnia. Next is an astronaut selection program. That will be the most challenging aspect of the project; finding people willing to give up so much of their lives for something so incredibly unknown. They hope to start taking applications from prospective astronauts soon. As with anything so extraordinary, hope is the first and most significant investment. Yet, Mars One seems undeterred.
Their literature indicates that residency on the colony will be permanent. I don’t know how that will work out for some people. Personally, I’m a creature of habit and enjoy certain comforts here on Earth. I believe, though, that Mars One will have to reconsider that aspect of the project, since plenty of people may get homesick; while others will be so incorrigible they need to be sent back to Earth. Unless they can meet an untimely death and their bodies be used for fertilizer.
I still have to give this a lot of thought. I’ll be 59 in a decade, but I already take better care of myself than most people. Hell, I take better care of my dog than most people do themselves! I figure the colony will need a technical / fiction writer anyway. I could regale the group with frightening tales of being a Democrat in a state gone wildly Republican. That surely would keep them on Mars!
But, I have plenty of questions.
- Will I be able to have a dog or two with me? I can’t imagine living the rest of my life without a canine at my side. I don’t need another person in my life. Most people are assholes, and dogs seem to understand me better anyway.
- Will I be able to bring my gigantic collection of books and National Geographics? Or, will every piece of literature have to be digital? As a writer, I’m a natural bibliophile, so books are as much a part of my life as dogs and rum.
- Speaking of rum, will I be able to imbibe in such spirits while on this colony? Things may not be as stressful on Mars as here on Earth, which is probably the whole point of establishing a settlement. But, knowing how quirky most people are – especially engineers and scientists – I’d need to have a drink or two after a day of installing air filters.
- Will I be able to masturbate in seclusion? I’m an introvert by nature, so teaming up with others in such a remote environment will be a real challenge. Ultimately, though, I seek out others for basic human interaction. But, I’d still need some hand time.
- Will I be able to have steak and meat tacos? Or, will everything be freeze-dried and MRE style foods? I’ve lived off peanut butter sandwiches, canned meat and blueberry muffins before. I’ve even had a full-fledged MRE. They’re different now than from the spam-based crap my father ate when he served in the Korean War. But, unless there’s a chance they improve dramatically in the next ten years, I can’t see living off them for a lifetime. I mean, I already suffer from dry mouth syndrome.
A great deal of thought and planning has to go into establishing a colony on another celestial body. Just the logistics of getting material to the place to build will be difficult enough, unless structures can be put together here on Earth and then shipped. I don’t think FedEx goes that far. There’s insufficient oxygen on Mars, so no one can take a walk around the terrain without dressing up like a beekeeper. There probably won’t be much room to move around, which means the colonizers will have to live in close proximity to one another. That alone could take a psychological and emotional toll. The intrepid astronauts will have to get along with each other and learn to cooperate even under the most jaded of circumstances. That would be difficult, considering you just wouldn’t be able to get in your car and go home. I got pissed off at some people during a play party once many years ago, so I just packed up the wine coolers and sex toys. They tried to stop me, but I wouldn’t relent. On Mars, I wouldn’t be able to just grab the remaining MRE’s and canisters of air and head back to Dallas on a moment’s notice. Knowing how easily people annoy me, I really have to think about this whole Martian colony enterprise.
Still, I feel it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Humans are naturally curious. Think about getting into a boat and sailing into an ocean without knowing how far away the next island or land mass is. Imagine just getting up from a grassy plain and starting to walk – to anywhere. That’s what our ancestors did. Americans made it to the moon, as part of the “Cold War” space race. I’m certain we, as a global society, can make it to Mars within a generation. In the meantime, I’ll imbibe in a Bacardi and Coke and begin stockpiling stories for those lonely Martian nights.