Even as a very young hardcore sf reader, I knew I would never be part of a one-way space mission, because I can barely stand to spend a long weekend trapped in the house with a handful of people I love, much less a bunch of random strangers. (And, yes, I did not rate my chances of appealing to a quorum of those strangers, either.) But Murphy the Trickster God bless the… idealists… who are willing to share their dreams of Martian colonization with all the world and the Boston Globe:
When the initial tingle had passed and the idea had been given time to marinate and settle, Peter Degen-Portnoy said his family split into camps regarding his decision to commit to a one-way trip to Mars.
His sons think it’s cool.
His two oldest daughters stopped speaking with him.
And his wife left him.
Three years ago, Degen-Portnoy, a 54-year-old father of five from Stoneham, was one of 100 semifinalists chosen for Mars One, a wildly ambitious Dutch-led project that ultimately seeks to colonize Mars, beginning in 2032, with 20 permanent, never-to-return-to-Earth settlers. The plan has been controversial from the moment it was announced in 2012, with serious questions about the technological feasibility, as well as the plan to fund much of the mission.
Mars One organizers say the project can be accomplished for roughly $6 billion; critics say that is preposterous, as is the plan to raise much of that through corporate sponsorship and the sale of television rights.
The mission is currently far, far away from becoming a reality — millions of miles and millions of questions remain about how they will get there, how they will survive on Mars and build a self-sustaining colony, and of course how they will survive the trip. The current plan involves sending supplies ahead, then sending crews of four crammed into spaceships the size of a tour bus for the 18-month journey. When solar flares erupt, they will retreat into a bathroom-sized pod, surrounded by water for protection, for several claustrophobic days at a time.
While space experts and keyboard cowboys continue their debate, Degen-Portnoy and the three other semifinalists from Massachusetts have been dealing with the very real impact on their personal lives that comes when you make a commitment to a one-way trip to outer space.
For whether they go to Mars or not, “the 100,” as they call themselves, are the first humans to actually experience the terrestrial repercussions of making such an extravagant extraterrestrial commitment…
But there’s also a love story! Much more at the link — along with a full-sized version of the video clip at the top.