Mars One is a Dutch non profit foundation that plans to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. The project has already be launched and plans to send forty astronauts starting with four. I was astonished to read that over 200.000 people around the world applied and that the selection has now narrowed to 100. I have asked myself how is it possible that so many people are prepared to accept this one way ticket and never see their family and friends again and turn their back to our beautiful planet earth.
I read in Mars One’s website that,” Before they leave the Earth’s atmosphere to travel to Mars, each astronaut will be put through the required eight years of training. The teams will be isolated from the world for a few months every year in simulation facilities, to learn how they respond to living in close quarters while isolated from all humans except for their crew members. In addition to the expertise and work experience they must already possess, they have to learn quite a few new skills: physical and electrical repairs to the settlement structures, cultivating crops in confined spaces, and addressing both routine and serious medical issues such as dental upkeep, muscle tears and bone fractures. ”
Not only that, but according to Mars One, “The flight will take between seven to eight months (depending upon the relative positions of the Earth and Mars). The astronauts will spend those seven months together in a very small space—much smaller than the home base at the settlement on Mars—devoid of luxury or frills. This will not be easy. Showering with water will not be an option. Instead the astronauts make do with wet towelettes (wet wipes) as used by astronauts on the International Space Station.
Freeze dried and canned food is the only option. There will be constant noise from the ventilators, computer and life support systems, and a regimented routine of 3 hours daily exercise in order to maintain muscle mass. If the astronauts are hit by a solar storm, they must take refuge in the even smaller, sheltered area of the rocket which provides the best protection, for up to several days.”
So no shower for eight months living in the space craft is not a very appealing idea but the worst is to come when the colonizers arrive: “Once they arrive on Mars, the astronauts will begin making use of their relatively spacious living units; over 50 m2 per person, and a total of more than 200 m2 combined interior space.
Within the settlement are inflatable components which contain bedrooms, working areas, a living room and a ‘plant production unit’, where they will grow greenery. They will also be able to shower as normal, prepare fresh food (that they themselves grew and harvested) in the kitchen, wear regular clothes, and, in essence, lead typical day-to-day lives.
If the astronauts leave the settlement, they have to wear a Mars Suit. However, all living spaces are connected by passageways, in order for the astronauts to move freely from one end of the settlement to the other. As the rovers have done much of the heavy construction prior to their arrival, it will not take the astronauts a long time to find routine in their new life, moving into carrying out valuable construction works and research.”
So this is the attraction for the brave or mad candidates who must be no doubt adrenaline junkies with a suicidal wish. But what about the people behind Mars One, I asked myself? What do they want to achieve? According to their website: “A one way trip has obvious technical advantages, but what does this mean for the astronauts themselves? That depends on who you ask. You could say that most people would rather lose a leg than live the rest of their life on a cold, hostile planet, having said goodbye to friends and family forever, the best possible video call suffering from a seven minute delay—one way.
However, there are individuals for whom traveling to Mars has been a dream for their entire life. They relish the challenge. Not unlike the ancient Chinese, Micronesians, and untold Africans, the Vikings and famed explorers of Old World Europe, who left everything behind to spend the majority of their lives at sea, a one-way mission to Mars is about exploring a new world and the opportunity to conduct the most revolutionary research ever conceived, to build a new home for humans on another planet.”
So is it science, colonizing a planet or both? If all goes as planned the first four individuals will depart this planet to never return in 2025 at a cost of 6 billion US$a and here is when I have to say that this project however well intended is morally wrong. Why? Because according to the United Nations there are 25.000 human beings that die of hunger and related illnesses, because illiteracy still exists in our beautiful planet, because diseases such as AIDS, Cancer, Malaria and others still exist, because in our developed world governments are cutting on education for the young, care for the elderly and health care for all, because the gap between the wealthy and affluent and the poor and those with no hope is widening. So my reflection and open question to those behind Mars One is: ” Would not these first 6 Billion US$ better be spent in making our beautiful planet a better home for us all in which we can all live in harmony. Why do they not get behind a Earth One Foundation and use the technology and the resources for this madness to make this a better world? Food for thought!