How’d you like a one-way ticket to Mars?


Sounds kind of like a threat, doesn’t it? Sort of like Ralph Kramden’s “To the moon, Alice!” (I’ve always marveled that such a wildly popular show could have sought to derive humor from wife-beating. Was it misogyny? Or, seeing as how Alice was the smart one, was it a way of further degrading Ralph? Were the show’s writers saying this is what you should expect from blue-collar guys like him? It just seemed a problem on so many levels, not least being the fact that it wasn’t funny.)

Slatest brings my attention to this interview with Gerard ‘t Hooft, talking about a proposal — which he supports — to send colonists to Mars to stay. As in, no return trip. But that’s not the kicker. The kicker is that the venture would be funded by the reality TV show about the “first Martians.”

Apparently, the idea has been around for awhile, but I didn’t know about it until I saw this interview. Here’s a story from last year:

The Dutch startup Mars One is counting on reality television to fund a highly ambitious trip to colonize the red planet.

The company hopes to establish the first human colony on Mars in 2023. (That’s 10 years before NASA hopes to reach Mars.) It plans to send four explorers on a one-way trip, with new teams following every two years.

That’s right—the Mars One colonists should expect to remain there for the rest of their lives, though the project website notes, “this is no way excludes the possibility of a return flight at some point in the future.” The settlers will have to hope that once Mars is sufficiently populated and developed, it will be “much easier to build the returning rocket there.” How comforting.

Still, even with the simplified logistics of a one-way trip, the Mars One project will still carry a hefty price tag—an estimated $6 billion for the initial four astronauts. To raise the cash, Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp plans on “creating the biggest media event ever.”

“To attract sponsors, we will create appealing media content around the selection of the astronauts, the training, unmanned missions and other topics,” said Lansdorp in an interview with Gizmag. “This should convince sponsors and investors to participate with the promise of an even bigger exposure later: we expect that almost every person on Earth will witness the landing of the first astronauts on Mars.”…

And this is from the website of the outfit proposing to do this:

Mars One is a not-for-profit organization that will take humanity to Mars in 2023, to establish the foundation of a permanent settlement from which we will prosper, learn, and grow. Before the first crew lands, Mars One will have established a habitable, sustainable settlement designed to receive astronauts every two years. To accomplish this, Mars One has developed a precise, realistic plan based entirely upon existing technologies. It is both economically and logistically feasible, in motion through the integration of existing suppliers and experts in space exploration.
We invite you to participate in this journey, by sharing our vision with your friends, by supporting our effort and, perhaps, by becoming the next Mars astronaut yourself.

Personally, I can’t imagine anything more depressing than spending the rest of my life in a tiny pod, or in a spacesuit, on a planet devoid of life. Never to see my family again — from the ones I now know to grandchildren yet unborn. Never to take in a breath of fresh, natural air or watch the seasons change. Having to take extreme care at all times just to keep living a life that would be grim at best.

And yet, 40,000 people have applied so far. Dr. ‘t Hooft (who to this ignorant Anglocentrist seems to have gone ahead and adopted a Martian surname) says this in the interview:

Everyone is now being asked about their motivation, and thousands of replies have already been collected.

Oh, I hope they’re doing a more extensive psychological evaluation than that. The results of an exhaustive study of people who would raise their hands for this should be fascinating.

19 thoughts on “How’d you like a one-way ticket to Mars?

  1. bud

    If we don’t solve our popluation explosion problem, thanks in part to the diabolical Catholic Church, we may have to consider sending many folks to Mars.

    1. Steven Davis II

      So it’s the Catholics who are at fault. I didn’t realize India had such a huge Catholic populations.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    I think the Ralph Kramden character was sort of a pre-Archie Bunker. I don’t think The Honeymooners was any more sexist than any other show of its time. A boring comic trope, to be sure, but short of Jonathan Winters or Ernie Kovacs, what was really funny on TV before the 70s?

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    I liked Andy Griffith, but funny? Green Acres was loopy, in a good way (Arnold Ziffel) but not laugh out loud. Smothers Brothers, okay. Maybe Laugh-In. But, but before 1965, bupkis.

  4. Silence

    Talk about threadjacking…. Howdy Doody (1947), I Love Lucy(1951), Leave it to Beaver (1957), Amos and Andy(1951), Milton Berle (1948), Captain Kangaroo(1955) Gilligans Island (1964), Burns and Allen (1950), Beverly Hillbillies (1962) AND Rocky and Bullwinkle (1959). Now admit that you misspoke.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Not even a smile. I tried to watch an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies recently, and it was even more terrible than I recalled.

      Rocky and Bullwinkle is a cartoon. Different class.

      1. Silence

        Most of the really good ‘toons were made for the movie theatres, not for TV, but almost all of them were pre-1965. Looney Tunes, Merry Melodies, that sort of thing.
        Agreed that the Beverly Hillbillies hasn’t held up well, but I think you are exhibiting a recency bias regarding your TV comedy. There’s a reason that a lot of those shows have been in reruns for decades now, they are good shows that people find funny!

  5. Tom Stickler

    If you were a less ignorant Anglocentric, you would know that ‘t Hooft is a perfectly normal Dutch surname.


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