Is the Privately Financed Mars Mission for 2022 a Colonizing Mission or a Suicide Mission?

Not to be impolite, but this video strikes me as flim-flam. Perhaps it is being used at fund-raisers to coax seed money from gullible wealthy donors. Watch the video and see if you agree with me.

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Why do I suggest that the film’s basic concept is flim-flam? Because (most obviously) the astronauts who volunteered would be condemning themselves to a life of claustrophobia, madness, and early death. It would be akin to volunteering to live in solitary confinement to your dying breath. They might–might–live three years in such conditions at most.

The narrator’s calm voice masks this unsettling reality. The world would be essentially witnessing, even if it managed to get the astronauts all the way to Mars, a suicide mission. The pods in place on the surface of Mars would be there largely for show. They would not really be for long-term habitation, or for the beginning of a colony. They would quell the conscience of donors as to what they had really sponsored: an act of human sacrifice for science, not a colony on Mars.

This may be a worthy thing to die for, but at least we should be honest about what the mission would be.

The way Mars will actually be successfully colonized will be far more humane. Nanotechnology and robots will lead the way, constructing large habitable structures that humans can comfortably and plausibly live in. But this is a century or more away. It’s not a mission for our time.

500 years from now, humans will probably have colonized Mars quite impressively, perhaps even greening the planet, giving it an Earth-like atmosphere. But the technology that got us to the moon is not the technology that we’ll use to start a thriving colony on Mars.

And why not colonize the moon first? Why not even green it? The set-up envisioned in the video is far more plausible for a moon mission–and the astronauts could at least get back after their extended stay.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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