I’ve always liked it here on earth. I can’t say its the best planet to live because I have never lived on any other planet. But being an earthling is kind of the same thing as having a reliable car or a decent relationship partner. Sure, you think about upgrading sometimes, but for now this works just fine, so why mess with a good thing?
For humans, being on earth seems to work just fine. We have oxygen, gravity, a reasonable climate, all sorts of cool nature, a variety of animals and plants we can ingest as nourishment, an opposing gender we can procreate with, and mind altering substances. Its pretty sweet.
But if you are volunteering to be an astronaut on the Mars One mission, you might not think earth is so great. You might think Mars has more to offer the human race than our birth planet. You might think an oxygen free environment with 62% less gravitational pull might make for better mountain climbing. Or that Mars has drugs that get you so high you’ll feel like your on…Mars. Or you could just be hungry for the prestige and glory of being the first ever human to colonize the fourth rock from the sun, even if that means living out the rest of your life alone in a strange and empty place millions of miles from where you were born.
So what I want to know is who are the volunteers for the Mars One mission? And why do they want to leave earth forever?
Lets rewind for a moment because if you have never heard of Mars One then you are probably confused. Mars One is a nonprofit composed of a group of really smart people (rocket scientists and the like) who want to create a human settlement on Mars by the year 2025. This is not real life “Interstellar”. The earth will not become inhabitable within the next ten years. These guys are just really smart and extremely well funded ($6 billion to be exact) so they decided “fuck it, lets colonize Mars.”
As they explain on their website: “human settlement of Mars is the next giant leap for humankind. Exploring the solar system as a united humanity will bring us all closer together. Mars is the stepping stone of the human race on its voyage into the universe. Human settlement on Mars will aid our understanding of the origins of the solar system, the origins of life and our place in the universe. As with the Apollo Moon landings, a human mission to Mars will inspire generations to believe that all things are possible, anything can be achieved.”
Kevin Garnett is ready.
The project started in earnest in 2011 by two dutch guys named Bans Lansdorp and Arno Wielders. Over the past four years they have been laying the groundwork by designing the mission, building the technology, and yes, finding their astronauts. To become one of the first ever residents of Mars, all you needed to do at first was fill out an online application….followed by three more rounds of rigorous interviews over a two year period from 2013 to now. When the application first started 200,000 people applied, but Mars One has now whittled down their applicant pool to 660 finalists, of which 24 will be chosen to carry on the human legacy on the red planet.
Oh yeah, did I mention its a one way trip? In other words, everyone who goes will never return to earth for the rest of their lives. Thats kind of important.
Friday, those 660 finalists will become 100 finalists and then eventually 24 finalists at which point they will begin a training regiment that will last a DECADE (which will also be broadcast as a reality TV show to help fund the mission…can’t make this shit up). A lot of this training will deal with spending tremendous amounts of time in remote locations that mock the environment of Mars (like the Arctic desert). These places will be called “simulation outposts” and they look something like this:
During the time spent in these locations, the astronauts will learn to live self-sufficiently by growing their own food, providing their own medical care, and learning how to use and fix all their sophisticated Mars technology.
Simultaneously, the Mars One crew will be sending other sophisticated Mars technology to Mars. In fact, this fancy Mars technology is so sophisticated that it will seek out and create a proper living quarters for the astronauts before they even arrive on Mars. Those living quarters will look similar to the simulation outposts. The Mars One folks also like to mention the fact that all the sophisticated Mars technology necessary to do this mission already exists.
The first flight to Mars is set to take off in 2024 and will reach Mars after a 7 month trip sometime in 2025. Four people will be on that flight, and by that time, they will all surely be more famous than Iggy Azalea. After that flight, another one is scheduled to take off every year with four more astronauts to help grow the colony while four new applicants will also be accepted into the training program to repopulate the Mars One minor leagues.
Eventually, assuming the space shuttle doesn’t incinerate entering Mars’ atmosphere, the Mars One project doesn’t go bankrupt, or any of the myriad of other reasons scientists say this ambitious undertaking won’t work, two of the Mars One astronauts will have sex and then BOOM. martians.
So this brings me back to my original questions. WHY THE FUCK WOULD ANYBODY WANT TO DO THIS?
I have struggled with this question mightily. The obvious answer in favor of going would be legacy. We all assume whoever the first humans to colonize Mars are will forever go down in history and be talked about for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Leaving everything behind to live out your life on a cold, distant, lifeless planet would also be considered one of the greatest acts of selflessness ever imagined. You are sacrificing your life in the name of humanity and progress. You are a modern day Jesus Christ.
But then I think about that other stuff. That earthling stuff like love, family, friendship, sex, children, awesome varieties of food, waterfalls, Yankee day games, a good Spotify playlist, golf, drinking, snowstorms, weekends at the beach, comedy movies, soft rugs, really friendly cats, a tempurpedic mattress, Breaking Bad, freshly varnished wood, good late night conversation, road trips, kind strangers, the cast of Entourage, wind chimes, inside jokes, reunions, the internet, sexy dancing, mall food courts, perfect fitting jeans, cool famous people, a really satisfying trip to the bathroom, new lawn furniture, a penthouse view, yoga pants, freshly mowed grass, the crackle of firewood, good news, chocolate milk, music festivals, people who blow glass for a living, cool sneakers, and Liam Neeson movies and I think that there is no way I am relocating to a place where none of that stuff exists.
Perhaps this video, in which the Guardian interviews 3 of the 660 finalists about why they want to die on Mars, might provide some answers:
Well that was fucking morbid. The British guy masterbaits so he won’t get prostate cancer and wants to abandon the human race because of his daddy issues. The American-Iraqi chick has a track record of abandoning family and has no desire to love anybody. And the dude from Mozambique thinks the earth has so many problems that it is impossible to solve all of them, so instead of trying he’s just gonna hop on a space ship and leave forever.
For all these people, their tortured past seems to play some sort of role in their desire to go to Mars. None of them believe that there is anything for them on earth, and that this is the only way to live a satisfying life. The only one I can understand is Jeremais, because for all we know Mars offers a better quality of life than Mozambique.
But for those three people, who I don’t think were painted in a particularly favorable light, there are other, rational, seemingly normal thinking people who also want to leave everything, as talked about in this Washington Post article. They are lawyers, physicists, veterans, doctors, husbands and wives, and sons and daughters. Some have very comfortable lives and loving relationships and still want to abandon all of it in the name of legacy.
It makes me wonder what it takes to feel fulfilled nowadays.
One day we will land people on Mars. It could be as soon as 2025, or it could be sometime after that (NASA says they can do it sometime in the 2030s). I sure hope it will be in my lifetime because I’d love to take a vacation to another planet. Maybe one day my grandchildren will live there or something. Perhaps Mars will even have its own NFL team (and I’d like to think they would be called the Redskins).
I remain infinity curious about the Mars One mission and will continue to follow it over the next ten years. I would love to learn about the 24 people who do get selected to go and why they want to do it. I would think of them as the bravest explorers man kind has ever known and I’m sure they will be heaped with praise.
And as much as I want that fame and recognition, I’m not going to be a star-fucker or a star-traveler to achieve it.
What do you think of the Mars One mission? Was this post way too long? Do you want to join my lip sync club? Let your voice be heard in the comments!