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One-way ticket to Mars 
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Post One-way ticket to Mars
The paper today had an article with an interesting premise - why not cut the fuel weight of a trip to Mars (which requires enormous amounts of fuel to haul the shielding due to the radiation) by making the trip one way. The nyt stated that there were many volunteers who would gladly live out their days there, and could possibly be the beginning of a true colony. (How to get the provisions up there was not discussed).
I wonder if the robotic mission to try to make the place a tad more comfy could be done first before putting humans out there with no stated agenda, actually - at least get some information about the CO2 in the regolith or something that could help any decisions about how (or if) to try to transform the Martian ecology into something more human-friendly. We have a bacteria that might be able to live there (per Nasa yesterday - but not sure if that is enough remotely enough to start with)

Another thought comes to mind - if the fuel for that could be on board then wouldn't a constant boost ship be able to avoid the worst of the radiation?

Any space folks out there want to comment - is this even being considered by Nasa or Jpl or someone?


Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:37 pm
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Post Re: One-way ticket to Mars
Audrey, if that article is available online, can you provide a link? I've had countless conversations over the years with space program folks on the problems with mounting a manned Mars mission, but I don't recall anyone suggesting a one-way trip. The biggest obstacle (other than government funding, which may never come) has been assumed to be the cumulative radiation exposure. I don't believe the propulsion technology yet exists that would enable a constant-boost trip without requiring an unacceptable fuel load.

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Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:34 pm
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Post Re: One-way ticket to Mars
Here: One-Way Mars Trip.

Gosh, we could have accomplished JFK's goal by just shooting a few astronauts at the Moon like the early Explorer series. "That's one small *splat* for man..."

The nonsense here is that when explorers set out for the new world, they were pretty sure they'd find water and edibles, not to mention a shirtsleeve atmosphere. Sending "colonists" like lab rats is a bad notion, even if I do find NASA's general 'zero losses' policy absurd. (We're going to send 20 people. Ten of them are likely not to make it back. Price of progress and it will mean they only have 10,000 volunteers instead of 20,000.)

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Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:05 pm
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Post Re: One-way ticket to Mars
Fascinatin', thanks. I don't doubt that many volunteers could be found for a one-way voyage.

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Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:39 pm
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Post Re: One-way ticket to Mars
Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, beginning with the book Red Mars, is based upon this premise. Robotic cargo ships are sent ahead to provide the basic ingredients for a permanent base.

Back in the real world, the VASIMIR rocket engine that is being developed by the Ad Astra Rocket Corporation holds the promise to significantly reduce the travel time needed to transit to Mars.

I'm 47 years old now, give the technology 15 to 20 years to develop to a workable state, if I escape any major illnesses and accidents, I would gladly volunteer to go on a one way trip. I would take my degree and expand on it and go as the first Martian life support technician. I could spend my final years opening up a brand new frontier. :D


Wed Sep 02, 2009 9:37 am
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Post Re: One-way ticket to Mars
The notion of a no-return policy for Mars crew is certainly a viable option, especially if it's accompanied by two or three big cargo ships for every human transport. With such a support chain, the unavoidable losses would not cripple the effort. It would probably take 20 years or more to establish anything like a self-sustaining colony, though, and I'd be a little nervous about taking that one-way ride knowing I was utterly dependent on an unbroken string of support vessels for the remainder of my life.

Even after initial viability, say, the ability to process oxy, water and basic food, it would take a long time before industrial capability was established. Mars isn't Virginia or even Nova Scotia - or even Pitcairn Island! It has no resources whatsoever beyond basic chemicals (and, I guess, rock for structural purposes). That's a steep curve for a colony to climb.

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Wed Sep 02, 2009 12:31 pm
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Post Re: One-way ticket to Mars
I volunteer!


Fri Sep 04, 2009 11:29 am
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Post Re: One-way ticket to Mars
This was part of the story:



One of my peers in Arizona recently accompanied a group of scientists and engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on a geological field trip. During the day, he asked how many would be willing to go on a one-way mission into space. Every member of the group raised his hand.

I think volunteers would not be that hard to get. If not for family (and an utter lack of skills needed for such a journey) I would volunteer!


Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:27 pm
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Post Re: One-way ticket to Mars
Call me stuffy, but any place I'm going to spend a few years in ought to have things to do. Mars has brown rocks to look at. And, uh, that's it. Even RAH threw in Martians and canals.

This is the fundamental bootstrap problem with extraterrestrial colonization: we just don't know of anywhere worth spending the time at. Constructing a worldship to the stars seems the best way out. Yes, it would be cheaper to build domes on Mars from local materials, but you would never find yourself in a new world with fresh air and alien trees and maybe some aliens to talk with. There again, it might take no longer to terraform Mars than for a worldship to get to a class M planet.

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Sat Sep 05, 2009 4:59 am
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