Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Space – the final frontier

Confession time. I know some may decide I’m wacky with this, but my imagination has been taken up lately by a story in the news that a non-profit, based in the Netherlands, is taking applications to be a part of the first Mars colony.

Scam? Crazy scheme? Unrealistic? Farfetched? I don’t really care.

I don’t intend to apply. First, I would never pass the health screenings. Even if I could, when HPS finally takes a serious toll on my lungs, I don’t think I want to be on Mars trying to cope – assuming that my lungs hold out that long. (Should you be selected to be one of the first Mars colonists, they expect training to last 10 years.)

Second, I do have a tendency towards claustrophobia. I can’t imagine surviving being in a small space for the long trip to Mars, and then likely having to live in a confined space indefinitely once you arrive. Claustrophobia is one of those weird things where, in your mind, you completely understand your fear is irrational and not based on any actual fact – yet, it’s just there.

The other reasons are some of the things that grasp my imagination. They are the sort of things I might not want to experience personally, but I would so love to be able to observe closely. What would it be like to leave Earth, not for a trip, but to live on Mars?

This scheme that made the news might seem wacky sounding to some, but what must it have been like for the first few people that came from Europe to the Americas? It must have seemed like such a crazy idea. What about so many of our ancestors that left their homes in other countries, way before air travel, fully knowing they might likely never see their families and friends again?

When people settled in distant remote places, they were leaving behind what they knew about government or structure or any of the supports society offers us. If someone got sick, broke a bone or if something broke down, they were on their own. And so it must be when the first humans leave this sphere for another. It will be a pioneering effort unlike anything we’ve seen for generations fraught with danger and sacrifice and adventure. What stories will come out of the experience! A writer’s dream! The ones who do it first, or even just earlier, will live such a huge leap in history.

I don’t really want to be one of the first settlers. I’m not cut out for it, even if a part of my spirit is so intrigued with the idea. Yet, when it happens, if I’m still here, I want to know about every facet of it, every little detail!

Last year I read a book, “Packing for Mars.” It was written by a science journalist that got great access at NASA. She pours over all of the problems one will have to solve if we ever make that trip to the red planet. Things that you just wouldn’t think of as a non-NASA type…it ought to be required reading for anyone applying to be one of the first Mars colonists – grin! 

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