NASA officials have confirmed that studies are being conducted to assess whether astronauts can be sent on a one-way mission to the Red Planet. So far, the mission amounts to US$1.1 million in seed capital that NASA’s Ames Research Centre and the Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency hope to turn into the $11 billion the mission could cost.
Ames Director Simon Worden confirmed the studies at the Long Now Foundation’s “Long Conversation” conference in San Francisco last weekend…
Worden’s admission offered few details beyond a possible 2030 launch date, but its coincidence with a new paper published in the Journal of Cosmology suggests how such a mission might look.
In their paper “To Boldly Go: A One-Way Human Mission to Mars,” Washington State University geobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Arizona State University cosmologist Paul Davies suggest a one-way trip sidesteps the potentially prohibitive costs involved.
“Eliminating the need for returning early colonists would cut the costs several fold and at the same time ensure a continuous commitment to the exploration of Mars and space in general,” they write…
Davies and Schulze-Makuch argue that a series of successful missions to Mars could eventually lead to long-term colonization of Earth’s second-closest planetary neighbour…
In the meantime, those with a spirit for adventure can start dreaming of what to pack.
Attwood says ideal candidates would be “willing to take a chance to see what’s on the other side.”
I needn’t comment on those who can’t conceive of such an idea. Those willing to risk all on exploration have always been uncommon – though not lacking in the history of our species.
I imagine that many of those who set forth on each of the journeys that brought our species from Africa northwards were equally capable of climbing aboard a rocket without a return ticket guarantee.