It’s always cheaper to fly one way, even to Mars. But are scientists proposing a suicide mission? An article in the latest issue of the Journal of Cosmology finds out.
The article written by Dirk Schulz-Makuch, a Washington State University astrobiologist and Paul Davis, a physicist at Arizona State University argue that humans must begin colonising another planet as a hedge against a catastrophe on earth. They think one way trips could start in two decades and suggest astronauts behave like the first settlers to go to North America - not expecting to go home.
“The main point is to get Mars exploration moving," said Schulz-Makuch who co-wrote the article.
Mars has surface gravity, an atmosphere, abundant water, carbon dioxide and minerals. The two scientists propose that the missions begin with two two-person teams, more colonists and regular supply ships following. By not taking extra fuel and provisions necessary for a return trip to Earth, the mission could cut costs by eighty percent.
“You would send a little bit older folks, around 60 or something like that” said Schulze-Makuch.
At least one astronaut who has walked on the moon is not impressed. Ed Mitchell of Apollo 14 wrote, “We aren’t ready for this yet”. Nasa was also cool to the idea. Their spokesperson Michael Braukus said, “We want our people back”.President Barack Obama has outlined a plan to go to Mars by the mid- 2030’s but never suggested that space travellers would not come home.
Davies and Schulze-Makuch said they were not proposing a ‘suicide mission’. They do acknowledge, however that the proposal is a tough sell for Nasa and suggest the private sector might be more fertile ground. “What we would need is an eccentric billionaire”. – Los Angeles Times