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The ultimate lonely-planet destination
June 4, 2012 3:21 PM   Subscribe

A Dutch company has unveiled plans to establish a human settlement on Mars by 2023. They hope to finance the innitiative by making a reality TV show of the mission and cut down on operational costs by having the astronauts stay on Mars for the rest of their lives.
posted by sarastro (145 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's one reality show where I'm sure the participants will do whatever it takes to renew for the next season...
posted by MysticMCJ at 3:24 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, like anyone is going to fall for that a second time...
posted by briank at 3:27 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wasn't this a Kim Stanley Robinson book?
posted by Betafae at 3:28 PM on June 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Three of them, in fact!
posted by incessant at 3:29 PM on June 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


But in the end the participates will learn that they were actually just living in a red-spray-painted biosphere on Earth the whole time and the real journey was the one within their hearts.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:29 PM on June 4, 2012 [68 favorites]


Get your ads to Mars!
posted by orme at 3:30 PM on June 4, 2012 [22 favorites]


Getting forty people and the barest means to sustain them for more than a few weeks would make building the ISS look like a kid's lego model by comparison. NASA isn't doesn't even have a viable plan for landing a crew module the size of Dragon on Mars; the gravity field is too strong to do direct descent on a rocket, and the atmosphere isn't thick enough to aerobrake such a heavy capsule to a stop before it hits the surface. That's one reason the landing scheme for the Curiosity rover, which is bigger than Spirit and Odyssey but still a lot smaller than Dragon, is so byzantine.

Magic 8 ball says Not Happening.
posted by localroger at 3:30 PM on June 4, 2012 [29 favorites]


Their ratings will be higher if they regularly kick someone off the planet.
posted by General Tonic at 3:30 PM on June 4, 2012 [29 favorites]


Honestly, of all the problems I can see with this project, the biggest one is that after the "Holy shit! Dude, we're ON MARS! Check it out!" part, the residents are going to be so, so, so bored. FOREVER.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:31 PM on June 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Their ratings will be higher if they regularly kick someone off the planet.

That'll be called death, General Tonic, and I'm quite certain they won't require any producer interference to make that happen.
posted by incessant at 3:32 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


**** EMBARGO UNTIL 2PM EST 05/05/2030 ****

In an unexpected course of events, a rogue cloud of Axe body spray has caused a fire in one of the settlement's oxygen refining areas. Nearby Russian cosmonauts have declined to launch a rescue attempt, citing the danger of explosions when the fire reaches stores of bottom-shelf light rum and self-tanning lotion. Stay tuned to this station for further updates...

posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:33 PM on June 4, 2012 [18 favorites]


Can we send the Palins there?
posted by brain_drain at 3:34 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The founder apparently did an AMA on Reddit and got torn apart because it was clear he didn't have a clue what he was talking about.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 3:35 PM on June 4, 2012 [21 favorites]


Since it's a Dutch company, will it be legal for them to smoke pot?

Because that would really enhance the "holy shit we're on Mars!" part.
posted by Trurl at 3:37 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, they've recently gotten lots and lots of publicity for funding a fairly impossible idea -- so they obviously know something about something, even if it isn't the ins and outs of space travel.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:37 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is the true story of seven strangers picked to live in a biodome on Mars, who work together and have their lives taped. We find out what happens when people stop being polite and start fighting over oxygen: The Real Mars.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:37 PM on June 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


All right, so basically, the show would be something like:

Episode 1: Meet the crew. Blast off.

Episode 2: Long boring trip in small ship.

Episode 3: Arriving in orbit, landing. [possible end of series]

Episode 4: Holy Fuck we're on Mars!

Episode 5: Oh shit, the robots fucked up/something didn't survive landing. [possible penultimate episode]

Episode 6: People in space suits wandering around [or] slow death due to problem from Episode 5 [possible end of series]

Episode 7: People in space suits wandering around.

Episode 8-23: People in space suits wandering around. [possible low ratings cancellation in here)

Episode 24: Everyone realizes "shit, this will be out life from now on."

I predict the first three seasons at least would all end with everybody dead. Basically, the reason to watch would be to see how they die, because watching people in space suits wandering around sounds deathly dull.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:39 PM on June 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ernie sums it up for me: Well I'd like to visit the moon...
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:39 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Even if they could pull off getting to people to Mars and settling them there for the rest of their lives, it would be the saddest, most disturbing and depressing TV show ever. Being stuck in a small space on another planet with a small number of people forever sounds completely awful.
posted by Hoopo at 3:39 PM on June 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is a vaguely interesting concept, but I can't imagine it being anything other than a giant hoax/publicity stunt.
posted by asnider at 3:39 PM on June 4, 2012


Oh god, that AMA is delightful beyond words.

did you see the team page? it has a graphic designer as one of the key people.

sobby loltears
posted by elizardbits at 3:41 PM on June 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


posted by Joey Michaels I predict the first three seasons at least would all end with everybody dead. Basically, the reason to watch would be to see how they die, because watching people in space suits wandering around sounds deathly dull.

Possible title: 19 Astronauts And Subtracting
posted by mattdidthat at 3:42 PM on June 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I fear you are one of these desert-loving English. No Arab loves the desert. There is nothing in the desert. And no man needs nothing.
posted by Trurl at 3:43 PM on June 4, 2012 [13 favorites]


The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost!
posted by crunchland at 3:43 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, at least someone's trying.
posted by New England Cultist at 3:44 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This would be better if we could all vote on who to send. Also they had no choice.
posted by fshgrl at 3:45 PM on June 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


I have absolutely no problem with any of this except for the statement about the media blitz and how 'Big Brother will pale in comparison'. I mean come on now. How can you expect me to believe that?
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 3:46 PM on June 4, 2012


PIGS FACEBOOK IPO IN SPACE!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:47 PM on June 4, 2012


Gee, just like living in Antarctica, but colder... and NO AIR!
And if you break something critical, spare parts are only three years away.
posted by Marky at 3:48 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


posted by Hoopo Being stuck in a small space on another planet with a small number of people forever sounds completely awful.

Kind of like Burning Man, but with space suits instead of nudity.
posted by mattdidthat at 3:48 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Haha that guy's entire plan is typing "MARS" in the Destination field on orbitz.com and frowning and then trying "MARS (PLANET)" when nothing comes up
posted by theodolite at 3:48 PM on June 4, 2012 [24 favorites]


I can think of a few "volunteers"...
posted by valkyryn at 3:50 PM on June 4, 2012


They could shave operational costs even more if they turned it into Martian Survivor and had them vote on who got to be dinner next.

Or better yet, Martian Hunger Games Survivor. That would cut down on the boredom for sure.
posted by y2karl at 3:52 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is another viral video for Prometheus, isn't it?
posted by cazoo at 3:55 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'll go.
posted by trip and a half at 3:55 PM on June 4, 2012 [16 favorites]


Watching people in spacesuits walk around is not deathly dull.

On the NASA channel we used to watch people in spacesuits float around the Hubble telescope for hours and hours.

We'd watch the feed from the cargo bay camera when it was pointed at Earth while the crew slept or did whatever. Also for hours and hours.

And this. Definitely not boring. Frontier House on Mars would be fascinating. All the social interactions, the tool and tech porn, the problem solving. On and on.

But this would be too awful to watch.

Death is absolutely the only possible outcome. It may come early or it may come late, but it's coming. I want TV to help me forget that I am doomed, and not TV that reminds me.
posted by notyou at 3:59 PM on June 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Count me in. "Hey, Flo. Can we strap you into a rocket and shoot you at Mars." "Is there any chance I might survive the trip?" "Not really." "Sure! Count me in."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:00 PM on June 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


But in the end the participates will learn that they were actually just living in a red-spray-painted biosphere on Earth the whole time and the real journey was the one within their hearts.

Remove their hearts!
posted by mintcake! at 4:03 PM on June 4, 2012


Death is absolutely the only possible outcome. It may come early or it may come late, but it's coming. I want TV to help me forget that I am doomed, and not TV that reminds me.

Six Feet Under was a good show.
posted by Trurl at 4:04 PM on June 4, 2012


Its really a godawful small affair
posted by The Whelk at 4:04 PM on June 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Unless it's a double-Dutch company. Then I think I'd just as soon skip it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:04 PM on June 4, 2012 [13 favorites]


The film is like an Onion joke.
posted by stbalbach at 4:06 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The ratings on the NASA channel aren't going to get you off this pale blue dot.
posted by humanfont at 4:06 PM on June 4, 2012


As you can read on the website, we will finance the plan by creating the biggest media event ever.

I totally believe this for two reasons:

1. Creating the biggest media event ever is pretty easy. You can totally plan on something like this.
2. Dutch companies are totally the ones with the right experience to create the "biggest media event ever." That's why the world's media is absolutely saturated with content from Amsterdam all the time.
posted by phoebus at 4:11 PM on June 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


So, let me get this straight ... they want to send reality show participants there, and they will never come back?

How fiendishly Golgafrinchan of them.
posted by Relay at 4:11 PM on June 4, 2012 [24 favorites]


In that IAMA on Reddit, the owner keeps insisting that they will get funding because it will be a television sensation, but I can't imagine any legal team working for anyone in the television business green-lighting essentially a protracted snuff film. They expect 4 people to survive on Mars with a limited payload for two years before resupply? And the resupply includes 4 more mouths to feed? Let's prove it here on Earth first.

The FAQ implies that the alternative to "Mars One" is a future without any Mars exploration. I contend that an alternative to "Mars One" is a future with competent Mars exploration. It's absolutely nonsensical that the first step to 'colonizing Mars' isn't 'sending some folks to Mars and then bringing them back alive' or 'colonizing a much closer planet which we've already reached.'
posted by muddgirl at 4:18 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Housewives of Valles Marineris in 3... 2... 1....
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:18 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


notyou: Watching people in spacesuits walk around is not deathly dull.

Not for you, maybe.
posted by moonbiter at 4:18 PM on June 4, 2012


I'll go.
posted by trip and a half at 16:55 on June 4 [1 favorite +] [!]


Semi-eponysterical.
posted by arcticseal at 4:19 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Send baby boomers. Seriously, if I were 60, my kid was grown, I would totally sign up, even if it meant certain death. Space, you guys...space.
posted by dejah420 at 4:25 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Being stuck in a small space on another planet with a small number of people forever sounds completely awful.

Being stuck in a small space with a small number of people forever sounds completely like my typical work day.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 4:26 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why stop there? Let's send all the libertarians there and watch them build their Randian wonderland out of the red dirt.

This is pretty much what Jonathan Lethem's Girl In Landscape was about. It didn't end too well.

Also, 2023?? Seriously? Damn, if you can hit mars in less than 11 years, why not aim for Alpha Centauri by 2050?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:27 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The tags on this post are pretty great.
posted by something something at 4:30 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why not aim for completing the Second Avenue subway by 2075.
posted by elizardbits at 4:30 PM on June 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


I used to toy with the idea of whether one woman, assuming she had sufficient resources, skills, avoidant personality disorders, and frozen sperm, could populate Mars. Here's one way you could get the funding to send her.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:32 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I expect somebody to leap out and go "just kidding! we never had a kidney to donate in the first place!"

Oh no, that was a different fake Dutch reality teevee show. Never mind.
posted by Jehan at 4:34 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


As someone who only knows about Reddit from seeing it insulted here on Mefi, can someone tell me how I get from clicking the link above, to actually reading the exchange between the subject of this post, and the reddit commenters?

How do I find the beginning of that "AMA"?
posted by General Tonic at 4:34 PM on June 4, 2012


On another site, several of us were talking about the SpaceX success, and we got to talking about a Moon base. On that subject, this is a slightly-edited version of what I posted:
Going to the Moon only makes sense if we're ready and able to construct an entire industrial infrastructure up there. Because the Earth's gravity well is so deep, however, lifting everything necessary to create that industrial base, and secure living quarters, would probably bankrupt the entire world. It would take an absolutely appalling amount of energy and resources, and that's assuming that it's within our technical grasp to begin with.

We first need to figure out how to get out of this nasty gravity well we're in, easily and cheaply. Once we have the materials technology to build a space elevator, then colonizing the entire Solar System probably won't be that far behind. But trying to do anything large-scale in space, when we have to lift everything with chemical rockets, is probably a thousand times too expensive to be worthwhile.

edit: I mean, to give you an idea, it would probably take something like a hundred thousand rocket launches to lift enough stuff to create a permanently self-sufficient Moon colony. Remember, modern civilization is really, REALLY complex, and the Moon will need to be able to manufacture everything it needs, because it will be far too expensive to lift things from Earth. So it will need a large population, and a very large industrial base, along with proven raw material resources, like iron for building and uranium for power, not to mention gigantic water and oxygen reserves.

That would probably cost something on the order of a hundred trillion dollars. And I could easily be underestimating that by a factor of ten.
Going all the way to Mars would probably increase the cost by at least another order of magnitude. The bulk of the economic output of the entire world, sunk into that project for decades, might still not be able to do it.
posted by Malor at 4:36 PM on June 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


why not aim for Alpha Centauri by 2050?

If you left right now, you would need to travel 4,263 miles a second to get there by then.

Since it will take time to wade through the audition tapes, you would need to go even faster than that.
posted by Trurl at 4:37 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


WE ARE VAN GOGH FOR LAUNCH
posted by argonauta at 4:37 PM on June 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


Why not just do this on the moon anyway? That makes a lot more sense logistically and cost wise. Far more reasonable. You could even get Buzz Aldrin to do the voiceovers. And every person kicked out of the moonbase could actually come back with a few kilograms of moonstone to make it all worthwhile.
posted by Jehan at 4:38 PM on June 4, 2012


we got to talking about a Moon base

You left out the most important issue: Why go to all that trouble to build a base we could only use at night?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:41 PM on June 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


Why not just do this on the summit of Everest anyway? It's a lot warmer there, and far more oxygen. You could even get Tenzing Norgay to do the voiceovers. Except that he's dead, but I'm sure he'll be available for the right amount of money.
posted by Jehan at 4:42 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Houten, we have a problem."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:43 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Except that he's dead, but I'm sure he'll be available for the right amount of money.

hologram Tupac!
posted by elizardbits at 4:43 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you left right now, you would need to travel 4,263 miles a second to get there by then.

Pish posh. If these guys can get to Mars in ~11 years on Celebrity Power, surely minor details like speed and distance can be overlooked.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:45 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I imagine once they scale the project back, they'll end up colonizing Detroit or something.
posted by perhapses at 4:46 PM on June 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Let's not be completely unrealistic, now!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:47 PM on June 4, 2012


But why send just one colony? Send two colonies, and make them

a) engage in obstacle course competitions against each other.
b) eat ram's testicles or lay in a glass coffin filled with cockroaches.
c) exchange spouses and broadcast the hilarious incompatibilities that arise.
d) have dance-offs and/or singing contests against each other.
e) battle-rap Hologram Tupac.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:52 PM on June 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


I would LOVE to go to Mars. It's the sort of goal that's worth spending ten or more years preparing for, and it's the sort of thing we absolutely need to do as a species.

But there's no way in hell I'd sign up for what amounts to a one-way prison sentence, to spend the rest of my radically shortened life in a tiny habitat with thirty nine other schmucks until an inevitable accident or radiation exposure finally ended the misery. Trips to Mars should be strictly two-way until we actually get the hang of living in space. And that might take a couple of generations, at least.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:53 PM on June 4, 2012


Dutch companies are totally the ones with the right experience to create the "biggest media event ever." That's why the world's media is absolutely saturated with content from Amsterdam all the time.

Um, yep.
posted by likeso at 4:55 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know this is ridiculous, but I honestly can't hate anything getting people talking about going into space.
posted by corb at 4:55 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is probably worth mentioning that when the Cold War space race was at its peak, something like this was seriously considered for reaching the Moon, that an astronaut would be sent on what amounted to a one-way trip and maybe reprovisioned until the technology was available to rescue him.

There were people who claimed to be quite willing to volunteer for such a mission. Glory is a huge motivator.
posted by localroger at 4:58 PM on June 4, 2012


General Tonic: that link takes you to the whole AMA, but reddit comments are threaded, and also rearranged in order of most votes, not chronological.
posted by jacalata at 5:01 PM on June 4, 2012


Kind of like Burning Man, but with space suits instead of nudity.

I've been saying for years that going to Burning Man is about the closest I'll ever get to life on another planet.

When I was a kid I dreamed of being an astronaut and flying in space and visiting other planets. As I got a bit older and realized that the space race was dead and nobody was going anywhere anytime soon, and even if a miracle happened it wouldn't involve me, I decided that Nevada was the closest place I knew to another planet and I might as well go build my space station there.

Years later I did move to Nevada. Life there wasn't much like I'd imagined it would be and I didn't stay long. The desert is a pretty awesome place, though, and I love to go back.

I'm not sure it would be quite as interesting to visit a completely sterile desert. Part of the wonder of an Earth desert is observing all the tiny little ways life fits into a hostile environment. Still, though, moving to another planet? Yeah, I would probably sign up, even if it meant a harsh life and a quick death. Some things are worth it. A stunt TV show is not one of them, but creating a human foothold on another planet would be.
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:01 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The 1967 movie Countdown depicts such a one-way Moon mission.
posted by localroger at 5:02 PM on June 4, 2012


I just bought a new computer, because the old one got clogged with dust and burned out. Can you imagine the dust forty people would make when they live for decades in a small sealed environment? (Plus all the Martian dust that would inevitability work it's way inside, then oxidize in the air and smell up the place.) All those sensitive electronics and air filters, that could only be replaced (at best) every nine months or so. There's hundreds of similar problems that would need to be solved before people could live out their entire lives in an artificial environment. We live in artificial buildings and cities today, but we never think about how much the surrounding Earth does to help us stay alive.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:11 PM on June 4, 2012


MARS.
NEEDS.
WOMEN.
posted by GuyZero at 5:12 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're in Seattle like me, Mars Saxman. Burning Man is a helluva lot less like a foreign planet than say, Florida.

The way to find enough volunteers for a mission like this is to schedule sign ups the day after the next US presidential election.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:14 PM on June 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dutch companies are totally the ones with the right experience to create the "biggest media event ever." That's why the world's media is absolutely saturated with content from Amsterdam all the time.

Dutch companies (specifically Endemol) did pretty much invent the reality house format (Big Brother) as well as the reality TV talent show, so there's that.
posted by atrazine at 5:18 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Acme Novelty Library #19.
posted by mwhybark at 5:24 PM on June 4, 2012


Pffft, the Dutch.
posted by indubitable at 5:30 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


They did this show called Defying Gravity a few years ago in which the astronauts were journeying around the solar system while being filmed all the time for television. Lasted one season. This show idea may not be the hit he thinks it is.

(though uh, I kinda liked it.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:31 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Its really a godawful small affair

But it would be the freakiest show...
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:34 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


brain_drain: "Can we send the Palins there?"

What did the Martians ever do to you?
posted by Splunge at 5:34 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Count me in. "Hey, Flo. Can we strap you into a rocket and shoot you at Mars." "Is there any chance I might survive the trip?" "Not really." "Sure! Count me in."

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson


It'd be raining It's Raining Florence Henderson.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:38 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


While I have very low hopes of anything surviving the landing (for reasons mentioned above), assuming anyone actually survives the trip between planets, you can not deny that the landing episode would be the most watched television broadcast in history. I'd be kind of surprised if they company were unable to sell those pre-descent advertising spots at outrageous prices tomorrow. Like, enough-money-to-actually-fund-the-project outrageous prices.
posted by jermsplan at 5:46 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Honestly, of all the problems I can see with this project, the biggest one is that after the "Holy shit! Dude, we're ON MARS! Check it out!" part, the residents are going to be so, so, so bored. FOREVER.

The problem of being bored while colonizing Mars was a re-occurring theme in more than one Philip K. Dick novel. Martian Time-Slip is most obvious one.
posted by ovvl at 5:48 PM on June 4, 2012


I have very low hopes of anything surviving the landing

Landing is the elimination speed round challenge. Whoever survives gets a bowl of freeze-dried astronaut ice cream and immunity for the next round.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:55 PM on June 4, 2012


Let us assume we can do 22 episodes @ 3 hours each with an audience the size of World Cup Finals or the Superbowl. Set aside 20 minute per hour for ads and we get 1320 minutes or commercial time. Assume $20 million per minute which would be well above the highest price paid for a minute of commercial time and you will only have about 26billion dollars. The tv ads will not cover this.
posted by humanfont at 6:06 PM on June 4, 2012


Plants in space.

There was some space news interest when the newest distillation unit was installed. There's lots of light, so once we have food and recycling, why does anyone really need to come back to earth?

After plants we need machine shops. Factories. Foundries. Get a few small iron meteorites in a convenient orbit and the only thing that needs to be sent into space is tourists, scientists and game show competitors.
posted by sammyo at 6:08 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


They did this show called Defying Gravity a few years ago in which the astronauts were journeying around the solar system while being filmed all the time for television. Lasted one season. This show idea may not be the hit he thinks it is.

Good show. You can buy it by the episode if you want or read how it would have gone if it hadn't been canceled.
posted by scalefree at 6:09 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh gosh, worse than a typo, asteroids, it's only a meteorite if you mess up yours orbital injection equations and, er, hit the plant. Big oops.
posted by sammyo at 6:11 PM on June 4, 2012


There was some space news interest when the newest distillation unit was installed.

That's a really cool technology and a welcome advance, but notice the part where it says that the remaining solids from the urine (the brine) is thrown away. A truly self sufficient or even just long term human colony would need to close the loops and reuse everything: 02, CO2, water, salt, heat... Those little buildings in the video would need to be a miniature biosphere.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:18 PM on June 4, 2012


I'd volunteer for this. I'd love to be able to jump really long, high distances and perform feats of incredible strength.
posted by unliteral at 6:28 PM on June 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd volunteer for this. I'd love to be able to jump really long, high distances and perform feats of incredible strength.

What you mean is 'Great strength of feet'.
posted by Malice at 7:00 PM on June 4, 2012


This particular scheme is obviously nuts. But, it does lead to some interesting ideas.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with some people in the human spaceflight mission concept business. I was surprised to learn that (at least according to one small group of engineers), proposals today are generally pitched as meeting US occupational safety regulations. In the particular context of an asteroid rendezvous mission, the lifetime risk of premature death due to radiation exposure would have to be at the level of a few percent in order to make the mission feasible.

I immediately suggested that if a sane cost-to-benefit calculation reveals that a given amount of risk is acceptable for a janitor at a power plant, then an astronaut could reasonably be expected to accept much higher risks. (Whether the janitor's case is actually being properly considered is a very different questions, of course.) Demanding that going into space be safer than being a soldier seems absolutely nuts.

I was then soundly chastised for not considering the political ramifications of high-profile astronaut deaths. One need only consider the hearings and media surrounding the Challenger shuttle accident to accept that it does require some care.

Still, it seems to me that both one-way-trips and high-risk experiments ought not to be dismissed without a great deal of thought. Assuming, that is, we're committed to the human spaceflight in the first place.

One of my favorite party questions is, "if you were given the chance for a one-way trip to an extra-solar planet, leaving next year, would you go?" The diversity of answers, and the tenacity with which people will defend them are interesting.

There seems to be very little correlation with profession, world-view, hobbies, etc, with two unsurprising exceptions. People who are passionate outdoor sporting enthusiasts tend to say no. People who've wintered in Antarctica overwhelmingly fall in the "yes" or "maybe" camp. Summer polies seem no different from the everybody else. (Kim Stanley Robinson got a lot of things right.) My own answer is, "I'd ask a lot of questions before signing anything, but I'd probably do it."

A fun experiment for later on in the party is to press people about exactly what conditions would cause them to change their mind. If they're on board for the extrasolar trip, what about a planet in our own solar system? What is there's a 50% chance of the ship blowing up on the launchpad? What about 90%? What is you have to share a tiny capsule with someone else chosen entirely at random? What if you could bring your spouse? Etc.

It's a fun game. And, if you play it often enough, at least if you invite the right people to your parties, one thing becomes clear: No matter how batshit-crazy the odds are, if it involves space, there are certain to be technically skilled and otherwise sane people who will jump at the chance.

Personally, a one way trip to mars with a tens-of-percent chance of dying early sounds pretty appealing, assuming it were part of some long term colonization plan and not completely pointless. It might even be worth consenting to be on television in exchange for the opportunity. (Assuming, again, the idea were credible. Sending humans to mars sure seems like a budgets-of-large-nations scale project.)

Whether it's something we ought to spend resources on is another question entirely. When it comes to finding out about Mars, there's still a ton of low hanging fruit just waiting to be gathered up at a tiny fraction of the cost of keeping humans alive. At this point, we've been to mars so many times already, it seems a bit silly to make a big deal of going there in a needlessly inefficient way.

On the other hand, while Earth has sent visitors to mars, *I've* never been there. "Should we send people to mars" is a very different question from "would you go to mars."
posted by eotvos at 7:15 PM on June 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


Sign me up.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:26 PM on June 4, 2012


Human spaceflight in general (Mars, the Moon and everywhere else) could have pretty huge benefits for everyone on Earth, in ways that aren't generally considered. These questions of life support and self-sufficiency can be applied both to Martian outposts and to cities on Earth. Technologies like intensive recycling and total water reclamation could be developed for and tested in space, then applied to our own homes, making the cities of the future a lot better for everyone to live in.
posted by Kevin Street at 7:34 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I immediately suggested that if a sane cost-to-benefit calculation reveals that a given amount of risk is acceptable for a janitor at a power plant, then an astronaut could reasonably be expected to accept much higher risks.

Why? Being an astronaut is, well, just a job. Perhaps an awesome job, but still a job.

Demanding that going into space be safer than being a soldier seems absolutely nuts.

Practically, astronauts are more highly trained, AKA, plain worth more than the majority of soldiers. We don't send them into space lightly.

This part of the FAQ struck me:
Being an astronaut is not for the faint-hearted. Three people died in a fire in the Apollo 1 capsule while it was still grounded, mainly due to haste and cutting corners. 14 people died while working on Space Shuttle programs Challenger and Columbia.
Yes, people have died during the US space program. However, the crew of Apollo 13 were saved not just with human ingenuity, but because the highest priority was to bring them home. There were several go/no go points in the mission.

If there is no plan for a safe return home at the time of launch, then there's never a point after launch where someone says, "That's not safe, let's scrub the mission."
posted by muddgirl at 7:36 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it's the best way to go really. I mean, this is akin to Jamestown level exploration here when you compare the technology to the task. The point is to dare, commit, and most likely die trying.

I saw we do it, do it again, and again until we get it right.

I volunteer.
posted by roboton666 at 7:42 PM on June 4, 2012


Those little buildings in the video would need to be a miniature biosphere.

Pauly Shore's got experience in this area. Maybe he should go?
posted by inigo2 at 8:15 PM on June 4, 2012


In the spirit of eotvos' comment..

Babies presumably will happen. Would it be immoral to have a child in this situation?
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:21 PM on June 4, 2012


trip and a half: I'll go.

You're the only one qualified to remote-pilot the ship anyway, aren't you?
posted by stebulus at 8:35 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is like that scene in last starfigher "but I don't want to be a starfigher!" fuck yeah I'll go to mars
posted by Brocktoon at 8:47 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the Dutch East-Martian company could be quite successful, if only they can find locals to oppress.
posted by nickggully at 9:11 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


When someone includes a reference to music4yourvids.com in their pitch video, I am not inspired by their longterm financial future.
posted by andreaazure at 9:15 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Technologies like intensive recycling and total water reclamation could be developed for and tested in space, then applied to our own homes, making the cities of the future a lot better for everyone to live in.

...or we could cut cut the unneccesary cost of testing for space or Mars and just figure out how to do it on Earth.

Or we could build Sealab.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:17 PM on June 4, 2012


But no one's going to do it on Earth when it's cheaper to use more clean water and soil... until there is no more clean water and soil. Go to space, learn how to survive there, and the lessons will come in handy later when we need them.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:04 PM on June 4, 2012


Or the Sahara, let's turn it green. That would be a cool scientific challenge.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:07 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


With the robotics technology we have today, I think manned space flight is a mistake. The costs involved with sending people are too great compared to the benefit over the automated and/or semi-automated options. Concentrate on building a moon colony using no on-moon humans to get the biggest bang for the buck now. Then talk about sending people.
posted by Bort at 10:46 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


likeso: "Dutch companies are totally the ones with the right experience to create the "biggest media event ever." That's why the world's media is absolutely saturated with content from Amsterdam all the time.

Um, yep.
"

Am I the only one that always sees the logo and the name and thinks that it's some sort of Sleep Medication?

Because I do.

Every. Fucking. Time.
posted by symbioid at 11:02 PM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would be a castmember in a heartbeat. There are so few adventures exactly like this anymore.

It probably should be SAG-AFTRA, since I'm union, but I think Mars is a little out of their territory. Besides, where would I spend my residuals?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:02 PM on June 4, 2012


I think that Robert Zubrin and the Mars Society have a more realistic plan.
posted by quazichimp at 11:29 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Send baby boomers. Seriously, if I were 60, my kid was grown, I would totally sign up, even if it meant certain death. Space, you guys...space.

From a radiation protection point of view this is actually a very sane suggestion: Ensuring a safe radiation dose gets considerably simpler when you don't have to plan for a 50 year timespan in lifetime cancer risk calculations.

I remember reading a paper some years ago where they calculated that, as far as the risk of developing a fatal cancer during the trip is concerned, men in their 50s and 60s are the safest group and women in their 20s and 30s the riskiest - doesn't sound like a winning formula for picking reality TV contestants.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:19 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


If my whole job for the next ten years could be training to go to Mars, followed by, you know, actually going to Mars, I'd totally do it. I'd do the terraforming Mars gig, and you'd have the little camera in my helmet or whatever, and I'd sing the whole time.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:16 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd want a pretty strong guarantee on my Official Manned Moofoo Mars Mission Kindle, though. Guy's gotta read.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:18 AM on June 5, 2012


From the Reddit AMA:

Will there be WiFi in the settlement? If not, count me out.

Answer: Yes to WiFi


I don't know if either party is being serious on this question, but it made me laugh. Yeah dude, bring your iPad to Mars, you'll totally be able to get to Facebook from here, LOL
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:10 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


"if you were given the chance for a one-way trip to an extra-solar planet, leaving next year, would you go?"

Space? I can't get out of warm bed on a cold day. You all go on ahead, I'll leave a light on.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:21 AM on June 5, 2012


The NOVA episode Can We Make it Mars? lists many of the various challenges. On Netflix streaming and full transcript available at the link.
posted by mikepop at 6:51 AM on June 5, 2012


I mean, to give you an idea, it would probably take something like a hundred thousand rocket launches to lift enough stuff to create a permanently self-sufficient Moon colony. Remember, modern civilization is really, REALLY complex, and the Moon will need to be able to manufacture everything it needs, because it will be far too expensive to lift things from Earth.

Your point makes sense but there are large swathes of industry that wouldn't need to be replicated because at even $10,000 a pound it would be more worth while to ship from Earth. Specifically stuff like pharmacals, microchips, and of course printer ink.

Realistically though a permanent, self sufficient moon base will be centuries in development. It makes more sense for the base to be something like the far north mines where you just don't have much of what is available in civilization. The slef sufficency in the short and medium term would be limited to life support habitat maintence and then growing out to manufacturing.

Seems unlikely though that any nation or group of nations will be far thinking enough to support it in the mean time for the decades that would require constant heavy lifting.
posted by Mitheral at 7:20 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the FAQ:

"How will the astronauts be chosen?

...

An early selection round will undoubtedly leave a group of eminently suitable candidates. However, the astronauts who will eventually be making the actual journey to Mars need to be more than suitable: they must be extraordinary. They will be mankind's eyes and ears, representing us all and be examples of what it is like to live on Mars. All remaining on Earth who yearn to know more about this experience will be able to, through our astronauts.

That's why it is so crucial to have them chosen by the population of the world."

Are you fucking kidding me? The population of the word isn't qualified to make this decision.
posted by MsVader at 7:42 AM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


In case anyone reading this thread actually believes this is feasible, please remember that so far we have not even been able to pull off a self-contained biodome here on earth. (The second mission failed due to social strife, which is still 100% relevant to the issue of feasability.)

We're probably closer to developing cold fusion than we are to colonizing Mars. Neither is going to happen this decade.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:49 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge: "Or the Sahara, let's turn it green. That would be a cool scientific challenge."

Not nearly as sexy, but about 100x smarter.

Like the Gates Foundation aiming to wipe out entire diseases, versus "Could Nanotubes Cure Cancer???"
posted by IAmBroom at 7:52 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


The problem of being bored while colonizing Mars was a re-occurring theme in more than one Philip K. Dick novel. Martian Time-Slip is most obvious one.

Gubbish!
posted by y2karl at 7:55 AM on June 5, 2012


*world*

I'm not even qualified to respond to this post.
posted by MsVader at 8:10 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Death is absolutely the only possible outcome. It may come early or it may come late, but it's coming.

So, it'd be the same as just staying on Earth?
posted by snottydick at 9:00 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was the point of the comment, no?
I want TV to help me forget that I am doomed, and not TV that reminds me.
Human deaths on Earth generally aren't broadcast for a profit.
posted by muddgirl at 9:14 AM on June 5, 2012


I didn't come here to make friends; I came here to have my spacesuit malfunction, leading to oxygen deprivation and hallucinations of unexplained supernatural phenomena as the ghost of my dead wife haunts me and I ruminate on existential questions.
posted by naju at 10:01 AM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Babies presumably will happen. Would it be immoral to have a child in this situation?

"Once upon a time there was a Martian named Michael Valentine Smith. ..."
posted by BrashTech at 10:09 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, is there anything reality TV can't improve for us? Parenting. Sex. Tanning. Space Travel.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:49 AM on June 5, 2012


I used to toy with the idea of whether one woman, assuming she had sufficient resources, skills, avoidant personality disorders, and frozen sperm, could populate Mars.

You realize this is kidnapping?

I do, yes.

And do you realize you’re insane?

Well he wouldn’t by definition.

What’s more insane? Suffering through famine, war, disease on a dying Earth or creating a utopia on Mars?

Um, using me as your brood sow?

No, not- well, ok yes. Technically. But we searched for so long to find the perfect human female specimen.

Well that’s flattering… ish.
posted by banshee at 1:14 PM on June 5, 2012


How will the astronauts be chosen?
Telephone sanitisers, hairdressers, and advertising account executives.
posted by unliteral at 4:40 PM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


As long as the habitation dome isn't made by the Bluth company.
posted by arcticseal at 5:54 PM on June 5, 2012


dirtdirt: "Man, is there anything reality TV can't improve for us? Parenting. Sex. Tanning. Space Travel."

If you do space travel wrong you will get tanning. And then death.
posted by Splunge at 7:41 PM on June 5, 2012


How will the astronauts be chosen?
Telephone sanitisers, hairdressers, and advertising account executives.
Telemarketers, collectors and call center representatives.
posted by y2karl at 1:06 PM on June 6, 2012


Human deaths on Earth generally aren't broadcast for a profit.

Generally? No, but they have been and will be again.
posted by snottydick at 2:28 PM on June 6, 2012


So? Should we encourage for-profit companies to send people to their death and broadcast the results? I'm sure, say, CBS could find 4 people who would volunteer to be deposited at the South Pole with, say, an air scrubber and a portable greenhouse. It wouldn't cost $6 billion dollars, either.
posted by muddgirl at 5:41 PM on June 6, 2012


I'm generally all for people talking about manned space exploration as well, but this? This just pisses me off. Because it doesn't even approach reality; it's just a big hoax/joke. I mean, this is what passes for discussion of manned space missions? Some random guy in charge who obviously knows not the first damn thing about anything related to space travel? A guy whose plan basically boils down to, "It'll work, because the world will think it's, like, really cool, man. And we'll get, like, the smartest people to make it happen. Yeah!"

What a fucking joke. What an asshole. It's worse than no discussion at all about space exploration and colonization. If this is what our prospects for manned space travel have come to, it makes me really sad.
posted by Brak at 6:11 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Telephone sanitisers, hairdressers, and advertising account executives.

Funny, I'd been thinking "I hope they take a telephone sanitiser with them, so the colony isn't wiped out by a telephone handset borne disease..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:43 PM on June 7, 2012


I'll just leave this here, from MetaFilter's own Faint of Butt three years ago.
posted by trip and a half at 12:43 AM on June 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


What a fucking joke. What an asshole. It's worse than no discussion at all about space exploration and colonization. If this is what our prospects for manned space travel have come to, it makes me really sad.
posted by Brak at 6:11 PM on June 6


I'm sorry, I agree with everything you said in your post, but because of your username, I couldn't help but hear it being shouted by Brak alternately sitting crossarmed at his desk and shouting with his hand. "IT MAKES ME REALLY SAAAD!!!"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 1:58 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So? Should we encourage for-profit companies to send people to their death and broadcast the results?

Yes. That is exactly what I was trying to say. Come on over and watch it at my place. I'm making popcorn.
posted by snottydick at 9:11 AM on June 11, 2012


This summer, NASA’s Curiosity rover will attempt the most ambitious Martian landing in history
posted by homunculus at 12:40 PM on June 12, 2012


NASA Rover Will Contaminate Its Samples of Mars
posted by homunculus at 2:30 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


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