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Mars Earth Space Science

First Mars-Goers Should Prepare For a One-Way Trip 528

Luminary Crush writes with this excerpt from PhysOrg about the permanance of leaving Earth for Mars, at least for early travelers: "The first astronauts sent to Mars should be prepared to spend the rest of their lives there, in the same way that European pioneers headed to America knowing they would not return home, says moonwalker Buzz Aldrin. '[the distance and difficulty is why you should] send people there permanently,' Aldrin said. 'If we are not willing to do that, then I don't think we should just go once and have the expense of doing that and then stop.'" On the other hand, maybe they'll catch a ride back with Carrie-Anne Moss.
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First Mars-Goers Should Prepare For a One-Way Trip

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  • by arizwebfoot ( 1228544 ) * on Thursday October 23, 2008 @02:56PM (#25485657)
    Would it be by lottery?
    Perhaps, you buy your way?
    Convict Volunteers?
  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @02:58PM (#25485717) Homepage
    In his novel Red Mars [] Kim Stanley Robinson tells of Mars being colonized by the First Hundred, a wave sent out after the first manned expedition, who would have to remain there forever. There are some interesting asides into the fact that, to want to leave behind your loved ones and all you know for a barren rock, you're probably not what the government bureaucrats who vet you would consider psychologically stable.
  • terminal illness (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jolyonr ( 560227 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @02:58PM (#25485729) Homepage

    Ok, if it were to be a one-way mission, and there wasn't even a major plan for long-term survivability when getting there, why not consider the possibility of offering a once-in-a-short-lifetime trip to people who have a terminal illness. Obviously it'd have to be something they could survive the trip out with. But what a better way to spend your last years/months alive?

  • by CptnHarlock ( 136449 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:04PM (#25485827) Homepage
    As they mention the damage from cosmic rays/radiation will probably shorten the travelers life considerably. Still, I'd go even if it takes a yer to get there and I get 2 full years of decent life there (and then 6 months till cancer takes me). I'm so there... There should be a poll connected to this article. :)

    Going to mars?
    * I'm game!
    * No way!
    * Send the Cowboy
  • by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:07PM (#25485855) Homepage Journal
    See Mars cycler [] for more details.

    It seems rather ironic that Aldrin himself was involved in analysis of the cycler approach, but is now advocating a one-way trip.

  • Why? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Drakin020 ( 980931 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:08PM (#25485877)

    Now before I speak I didn't RTFA....

    But why can't the ship return home? I don't think it's an issue of weather or not someone can come home, but how long the trip will take.

    Once you reach outer space and are going a certain speed, am I right when I say you don't have to continue propelling yourself through the air? Just glide out towards Mars until you arrive. Much like the moon landing, once you finish your business, can't you just lift off and go home? Sure there is more gravity on Mars so the amount of force to put you in space will require more fuel, but again though...It's the same concept right? It just travel time.

  • by mr_matticus ( 928346 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:10PM (#25485907)

    And if this were 1606, I'd agree.

    However, we already have maps of Mars. We have reasonably fast communication capability and data uplinks. People "on the ground" can relay useful information without sailing two months back to the motherland (not to mention the incredibly wasteful notions of either carrying return fuel, or carrying a fuel refinery, both of which occupy space and weight that could be better used to equip the first visitors properly for their trip.

    Sending astronauts to Mars to stay permanently, without any experience of the efficacy of the technology, is inviting disaster.

    Sending astronauts to Mars to stay temporarily, without any experience of the efficacy of the return vehicle, is inviting disaster.

    Overcomplication in mission profiles and equipment is a greater problem. The first mission there should be a simple, straight-shot delivery vehicle, loaded up with habitats, tools, and backup equipment for a one-year camp on Mars.

    The second mission, which should be launched two or three months, not years, later, could include a return vehicle with additional supplies and food. The problem at Jamestown was that they brought along insufficient resources of every kind. Dedicating half of the first mission to coming home again is the repeat you fear.

  • What Rot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by turgid ( 580780 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:12PM (#25485959) Journal

    What a lot of rot. If we rely on chemical rockets, then yes, Mars will be a one-way trip.

    On-orbit assembly of nuclear powered reusable spacecraft would completely change the game.

    We need to stop thinking small and start asking, "How big can we build a Mars ship?" Heck, we know how to build a substantial space station in earth orbit.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:14PM (#25485995) Homepage

    In the early days of the U.S. space program, there was some talk of sending someone on a one-way trip to the moon, there to wait until larger rockets could deliver a vehicle able to make the return trip. One-way supply rockets would keep the poor guy alive while work progressed on the big boosters. It was a desperate plan to beat the USSR.

    Aldrin, in his astronaut days, was not one of the proponents of that scheme.

  • Order of Operations (Score:4, Interesting)

    by viridari ( 1138635 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:24PM (#25486173)

    Just some bar room style conjecture. Pull up a beer and jump in.

    We should have a functional space elevator in place here on Earth first, used regularly to haul heavy cargo into orbit.

    An interplanetary vessel should be assembled in orbit from components manufactured on Earth. Once the ship is built, cargo to support the first expedition can be sent up, followed by consumables for the trip, followed by the explorers themselves.

    If the whole space elevator thing works as we hope here on Earth, a similar system should be constructed on Mars to support long-term missions. Additionally we ought to have GPS and communications satellites in orbit around Mars before sending permanent colonists.

    With space elevators in place on both ends, it becomes far less daunting to send the heavy cargo needed to build rugged and roomy shelters, greenhouses, etc.

    Sending astronauts there for short term scientific visits is indeed a waste of time, money, and other resources. If the idea is to have a more permanent presence on the red planet at some point, we should be building out the infrastructure now that is needed to ensure the first colonists have what they need to succeed.

  • by IceCreamGuy ( 904648 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:27PM (#25486215) Homepage

    It seems rather ironic that Aldrin himself was involved in analysis of the cycler approach, but is now advocating a one-way trip.

    I feel like that adds more wight to his current opinion...

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:32PM (#25486317) Homepage Journal
    Count me in too. Hell, I'd rather go on a one way trip to Mars than one where I have to come back.
  • Re:Who? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by residieu ( 577863 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:41PM (#25486501)
    The guy who punched out a filmaker who accused him of lying about having landed on the moon.
  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rakishi ( 759894 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:45PM (#25486593)

    You're assuming that those who went somehow represented the view of he majority of people and that their idea of "fixing" the government was what most people wanted. One modern day example may be a hard core communist who wouldn't be happy with anything but communism. To him the government is horrible and should be torn down then rebuild among glorious marxist views. To almost everyone else he's an insane nut case who should be locked away. Even those who don't like the government wouldn't want his ideal put into place since to them it's much worse than the status-quo.

    Most likely you'll get to experience all new forms of corruption which aren't bound by centuries of safety measures. Except you'll never be able to get away from any of the idiots and politicians (ie: dictators likely) who now control your very life.

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by al3 ( 1285708 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:49PM (#25486685)
    As a bureaucrat, I can speak for myself and many around me that we often want to change things in government for the better from within. There are entrenched elements, but they're not insurmountable given time and patience. Perhaps the notion that good government [] is possible has something to do with the country I come from, and revolution doesn't immediately spring to mind as "the only other good alternative".
  • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:54PM (#25486817)
    Two words: mineral rights.

    Imagine an entire planet's worth of rare and valuable metals that hasn't been touched in all of history.

    A sustainable biosphere could easily form given enough space. All they need to do is build a giant compound and populate it with the various microorganisms, plants, and animals that it needs. Take in CO2 from outside, and release excess O2 as well as any greenhouse gases you make, and before too long you have a pretty nice atmosphere. It could all be built on the mineral wealth that the land would produce.
  • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @04:04PM (#25486999)

    First of all, I would want decent access to "the internet". Not sure how to do that, but one could imagine a somewhat intelligent web crawler spidering through pages that I've nominated as interesting and just sending that in big chunks.

    I'd want access to movies - again, they'd need to be sent, so that's a tricky one like the one above.

    Would be nice to have book. Lots and lots of books. OCR a few thousand+, ship it with me. Could do the same with movies and music I suppose.

    One thing I don't think I'd want to be without would be Mechano/LEGO or something similar in large quantaties. Electric motors that would work with this and lots of solar panels.

    Since this is a trip to Mars, every single piece of Mechano/LEGO going with me will be cataloged. This should be put on the internet on some kind of Wiki like website. Give others the chance to play around with what I have access to, build cool contraptions etc. Even stuff that'd come in handy for new mission style things.

    LOTS of spares for everything that is brought. Not one computer, send 10 or 20 along.

    Mars is aparently rich on methane, so something to use extract that with (oxygen as well). That way you could have external heating, gas powered vehicles etc.

    I suspect the biggest problem (outside catastrophic problems, like immediate medical problems, base blowing up etc) would be cabin fever. Entertainment, books, movies, music, would probably aliviate that to a great extent.

    Oh, and something to commit suicide with. Not a gun or anything like that. Give me ... 50 suicide pills. They should be painless, not work inside the first hour. And I'd want 49 antidotes. Might not need a single one, but ... just in case. Would be a shame to realise that you didn't bring any ;)

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by i2878 ( 736937 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @04:04PM (#25487009)
    A great many of these one-way travelers were fleeing religious persecution (obviously a few years later) - limited not necessarily so much by transportation technology, but by conviction to not bow to the governing church - and willing to die for it.

    Haven't you gone to an elementary school Thanksgiving play lately? Oh wait - we can't talk about US Christian history in schools anymore.

    Where's my ticket?

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BiggerIsBetter ( 682164 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @04:25PM (#25487425)

    I can imagine a future where entire planets are "one" ideology... maybe a Muslim planet, a Christian planet, a Communist planet, a Scientology planet, etc. And probably at war with each other. While extreme, we've got huge amounts of money and plenty of smart people in Muslim countries, we've got a Christian government in the US (flame suite on), we've had a couple of Communist governments putting people into orbit, and well, the last one might be possible with private space travel...

    The years change. The places change. People do not.

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MeanSquare ( 572322 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @05:27PM (#25488839)

    People in areas that are sparsely populated and/or geographically isolated tend to have relatively weak government (think Scottish highlands vs rest of England, or England vs mainland Europe, or Japan vs China, or sub-Saharan vs N. Africa, or Guinean Highlanders, or native Americans, or...). There aren't enough idle people for an entrenched bureaucracy and a monolithic government capable of crushing all resistance to be established.

    Essentially any sort of authoritarian government like communism or theocracy (possible for a time if you import a religiously homogeneous population I suppose) is out. These systems tend to piss a lot of people off and, in a small group of people, all you need is a handful of malcontents to start a revolution (whereas in a massive state like the USSR even millions of pissed off people can be ground to hamburger without much trouble).

    I think colonies off of Earth would have a similar social structure to those on earth. Anarcho-Capitalistic, like the early British empire or the American west (i.e. I don't think the wildness of the wild west was an historical coincidence).

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Have Brain Will Rent ( 1031664 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @05:45PM (#25489169)

    That seems disappointingly similar to today where I need permission from the government to move a wall inside my house, take a railing off a staircase etc. etc. I might own the property in theory but in practice there isn't a whole lot I can do with it without government consent.

    Even if I were to be waaaaayyyy out in the boonies I'd still need consent on building code, environmental stuff etc. etc. Practically this may not be an impediment since they wouldn't bother to come look, especially if the only way in is air or boat, but still the control is still there technically.

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @05:49PM (#25489223) Homepage

    Yes, these are the 1640 edition of neocons that weren't so
    much complaining about whether or not they could do what
    they felt like but felt the need to meddle in the moral
    decisions of everyone else.

    They left Holland because it was "too tolerant". They
    couldn't have their children growing up "metropolitan".

    The idea that they were "persecuted" in England is mainly
    American mythology. They came here so that they could be
    free to be the persecutors.

    Many of our early colonies were formed by people fed up
    with or banished by the Puritans.

    In nearly 400 years, not that much has changed.

    They're still the same sort of people now that they were then.

  • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @06:15PM (#25489641)

    Every time space travel appears on Slashdot...I get another opportunity to remind you'all that your country is broke. Which means that there isn't going to be a grand 21st century manned space program to other planets.

        You can't lose a three trillion dollar war, buy-out the bunko mortgage of every half-wit burger flipper who scammed a half-million 'loan' for a McMansion, give 700 billion dollars to Wall Street sleezos and have a grand glorious space program on other people's money. Not anymore. No matter how many times that you remind them that you have 10000 hydrogen bombs.

        You're broke. Your so-called government has spent already spent every tax dollar that you and your children and your grandchildren are ever going to have taken out of their paycheck.
    And you got nothing out of it. You can't even get your teeth fixed. Do you have dental insurance? Every one else in the civilized world does. You don't.

        There is no future manned space program. It's a fantasy.

        Once again, I must remind you of this fact.

      Thank you for your attention,

    The rest of the world

    P.S. you can go back to your comic book movies now.

  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @08:41PM (#25491499)

    As an Australian, all I can say is... enjoy your Diebold-chosen masters at your next election.

  • Ship dead bodies. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RustinHWright ( 1304191 ) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @09:04PM (#25491687) Homepage Journal
    And that's the point of my plan. Offer to "bury" people by having their bodies shipped to Mars. The bodies can launch on low-fuel, high-g rockets and get there by equally low-fuel slow trajectories. Let's say delivery to Mars orbit within five or six years, depending on launch time. Then, when they get there, the bodies get dropped into a row on top of which lots of microorganisms are dropped and used to kickstart a soil supply. One that we then *know* will have the right balances of nutrients, have a decent amount of water, and a wide range of microorganisms. Add fifty or sixty pounds per body of biodegradable packing material (i.e. a coffin that will become part of the resulting biomass) and you'll really be in great shape. Include a translucent outer case with some insulating properties and you don't even need much of a greenhouse waiting at your destination. A job for Aerojel, seems to me.

    Betcha it would work, too. Get the cost down to two or three million dollars each and you'll have to barricade the doors to keep rich, elderly techies from signing up too fast. I figure, what, a hundred million in development costs. About the same as the Indian moon mission. If costs can be brought down to two million per corpus and the charge kept at, say, three million, it shouldn't take more than fifteen years or so at worst to be in the black and, by the way, have developed a kickass set of launch expertise, facilities, and rights to tens of thousands of pounds of rich biomatter, all already delivered to Mars. If necessary, it could even be initially delivered to a Martian parking orbit to wait in deep freeze for an optimal location to be chosen.

    Just think of the variations. Pet burial. The same technique delivered to a greenhouse on the Moon. And so on.
  • Re:Who Chooses? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:16AM (#25493941)

    Unless you're from Iceland or Norway, enjoy your 'lower than Australia' HDI :)

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351