In the future, Earth isn’t the only place that humans will call home…
Would YOU pack up and call Mars home?
In 2010, NASA publicizes their plans to colonize Mars (The Telegraph). It would be a one way trip for the bold adventurers. Feasibility studies were performed to assess if life could be sustained permanently on Mars or its moons. Early estimates of costs start at a little more than 10 billion USD.
Most recently, the source of these costs have changed. According to Discovery News, Elon Musk, Billionaire Founder and CEO of SpaceX, believes Earthlings would pay $500,000 USD for the one way ticket and estimated that one in 100,000 people would be prepared to go ( i.e. 80,000 space colonists).
With 80, 000 pioneers, the funds would amount to $40 billion USD – an amount much higher than first estimated. “Some money has to be spent on establishing a base on Mars. It’s about getting the basic fundamentals in place,” Musk said. “That was true of the English colonies [in the Americas]; it took a significant expense to get things started. But once there are regular Mars flights, you can get the cost down to half a million dollars for someone to move to Mars. Then I think there are enough people who would buy that to have it be a reasonable business case.”
Raising funds for a brand new home of $500,000 USD on Mars does seem feasible, if you sell your current home, give up some of savings, and sell your car and other assets that you will not be able to bring with you. Are you willing, however, to be the first pioneer?
Musk envisions the use of a fully reusable rocket to transport colonists to Mars. “It’s going to be much bigger [than Falcon 9], but I don’t think we’re quite ready to state the payload” (Discovery News).
SpaceX is developing a version of the reusable Falcon 9 rocket to transport the spacecraft, The Dragon. The Falcon 9 rocket has had three launches – “all flights achieved 100% of mission objectives and the third flight made history, making SpaceX the first commercial company in history to visit the International Space Station” (SpaceX).
The Dragon also has successes to boast of. “In May 2012, SpaceX made history when its Dragon spacecraft became the first commercial vehicle in history to successfully attach to the International Space Station” (SpaceX).
Think About It
We won’t ONLY, however, be transporting humans to Mars. Microorganisms may also be hitchhiking on the people and equipment. NASA can’t guarantee that all equipment and people will be 100 percent clean. In fact, tests have proven that some bugs have survived the simulated harsh conditions of Mars – “a surprisingly large number of microbes survive the sterilization procedures and remain attached to the spacecraft at the time of launch” (Discovery News).
For instance, Escherichia coli was one of the microbes that had no issues living in these conditions, although it did have a hard time multiplying. Not only will we have to worrying about these diseases, we have to consider the consequences of infecting Mars. Will we be prepared for the mutations of these diseases as they evolve in their home?
Microorganisms will not be the only ones evolving. The harsh conditions and effects of space travel will put a lot of stress on the human body. In addition, colonizing Mars isn’t going to be a walk in the park. Like the first pioneers of America, the habitants of Mars will be required to do quite a bit of hard physical labour to build a sustainable lifestyle on this red planet.
All I see is stress, stress, stress … will the new brave adventurers be prepared physically and mentally for such an endeavour?
Yes, we have journeyed out into the unknown before, but adventuring out into an environment that already sustains living organisms is much, much different than exploring and cultivating a world that does not support life…yet.
Would you go?