To the Moon, Alice? How about a one-way ticket to Mars?

By John Toth

I like to save money as much as the next guy, but I am having some problems with a cost-cutting measure proposed recently by scientists with a plan for cheaper missions to Mars.

Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a Washington State University professor, and Paul Davies, a physicist at Arizona State University, recently authored a proposal that would allow the government to save as much as 80 percent on a trip to Mars by only going one-way.

That means, once the astronauts take off, they’ll never come back to Earth, much like the early settlers who came over here and never saw their home countries again. If it could be done back then, it can be repeated on a grander, more modern scale, they proposed.

I could quickly make a list of who I think should be sent on the first mission, but political views are probably not being considered. However, age is, and they propose that only older astronauts be sent, those who already have had their families and are 60 or older.

I’ve heard of innovative ways to make cuts in Social Security, but this radiation along the way makes them infertile. At that age, they don’t need that fertility thingy, anyway.
Let me call them Dirk and Paul, because Dirk has a weird last name with a hyphen, and I don’t feel like typing it out each time I mention him.

I see their logic, though. One day the Earth will be destroyed by an asteroid or a black hole, or whatever other way it can be destroyed, and unless we populate the universe, our species will become extinct.

So, why not send pioneers on these one-way trips and hope that some survive. Others can follow, and soon we’ll have hopped from one planet to the next – sort of like the weird creatures who always fight humans in Star Trek movies.

Although, they also may be human. Over many generations on various planets, these Earth humans will have taken on different shapes because of various planetary conditions. It’s adapt or die, so they’ll try adapt. Then their children will start growing big heads, big eyes, maybe skinny, long hands, and develop vocal chords that can only squeak.

They may be talking our language, but because they can only squeak, we won’t me able to understand. But, Google will come up with a translator, so we’re OK on that. However, I have watched all kinds of sci-fi movies, and in many of them the aliens speak perfect English. Even the accent is perfect, like they were born right here in the U.S.

That’s probably so that we can understand what they are saying. If the movies were made in alien language, we’d all be wondering what the heck is going on.

Who would be among the first to go on this six-month-long trip to Mars? Someone with nothing to lose, like the Pilgrims?

But, when the Pilgrims started coming over here they knew that once they arrived there would be water and trees and animals to kill for food. They could farm once the native Indians showed them how. In exchange, they gave the Indians horses, guns and smallpox.

They had some concept of what to expect, and yet entire colonies were wiped out, anyway.
So, what chance of survival would a very small group of pioneers in spacesuits have on a planet that does not really fit our needs, but we want to go there anyway because it’s close? Perhaps very small, indeed.

Would you go, and if so, why, dear reader? Let me know, and if I like your reason, I’ll publish it. Don’t worry. I’ll like it.

And if you do not want to go on such a historic suicide mission, who would you send instead? I have a long list, too. Show me yours and I’ll show you mine. Send your comments to