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mattbrowne's avatar

Sending along plenty of resources - If astronauts agree, should we save a lot of money and give them a one-way ticket to Mars?

Asked by mattbrowne (31563points) April 25th, 2009

The scenario includes transport of plenty of resources that will last for at least 50 years (including the capability to use local Marsian resources). The astronauts will live on Mars permanently and grow old there. The mission will involve at least 20 people, both male and female including couples. The restriction is not to have kids on Mars. Birth control is critical. There will be communication with Earth including remote help if needed such as remote surgery (telesurgery).

Why would people want to do that? Because they are explorers, I think. Astronauts are like people who sailed across the Atlantic to stay in North America. Funding such a one way trip would be so much easier than funding a return trip.

What is your opinion about this scenario? Would you prefer no trip at all or a return trip?

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15 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I could swear you’ve asked this before

No, any trips to Mars need to include a return trip or efforts to set up a permanent base.
Sending these guys to live out the rest of their lives on Mars with no support from Earth is unethical.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

If we’re going to spend money looking to colonize other planets rather than taking care of and living within the limitations of our own then yes, if the astronauts agree then send them out on a one way missiion in order to keep expenses down.

oratio's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic I think you are thinking about the sending people to another star system question

Oh I think there would be plenty of volunteers for that. I think building a colony on Mars is a great project if it can be done. I would go. Spreading life to another planet would be beautiful.

westy81585's avatar

It would be beneficial as a learning experience, but in the long run we’re going to want to know/be able to go back AND forth.

Jayne's avatar

How is it unethical if they give their consent? They have all the human contact they desire. The only thing they lack that we consider ‘natural’ is the ability to procreate and leave some living mark of themselves; a right that plenty of earth-bound people opt out of or are unable to fulfill. All things considered, a child is almost certainly far less of a mark to leave than that left as the first colonizers of a new planet.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It is unethical to send willing to participants to their deaths for what essentially amounts to experimentation.

Any sort of manned space travel development needs to be designed with a round trip situation in mind otherwise it is functionally not useful.

Jayne's avatar

But it is not sending them to their deaths. They are living out a natural life, and will die just as anyone else dies. The fact that they die on mars isn’t “unethical”. For them, it’s probably damn cool.

Incidentally, I would argue that people have the right to decide to die, especially because in this case we can be reasonably certain that they are doing so in full possession of their faculties and not because of mental instability. But as I said above, this is not even at issue here.

Blondesjon's avatar

It’s not a bad idea but wouldn’t we effectively be putting all our eggs in one basket?

oratio's avatar

@Blondesjon I don’t get what you mean by that…

Blondesjon's avatar

A voyage of this magnitude would come with a hefty price tag.

If the trip is a success, all is good. If the trip fails in tragedy than the entire Mars program gets set back twenty years.

i personally love the idea

Darwin's avatar

Wouldn’t it really suck to be the last one, though?

mattbrowne's avatar

@westy81585 – Yes, in the long run we’ll be able to create the technology to go back and forth. My favorite scenario is using Amor Earth-grazer asteroids which also get very close to Mars. The idea is using inexpensive small-size shuttles to and fro the asteroid and establish a long-distance habitat on the asteroid itself. The astronauts (later probably called business travelers or tourists) would spend most of their travel time on the asteroid.

We could actually tell the volunteering one-way astronauts that there’s a 50% chance for a return trip, say about 30 years into the future.

mattbrowne's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic – Was it unethical to allow the original Jamestown settlers to board a ship and cross the Atlantic Ocean? It was an experiment and it actually failed.

From Wikipedia: the island was swampy, isolated, offered limited space and was plagued by mosquitoes and brackish tidal river water unsuitable for drinking. In addition to the malarial swamp the settlers arrived too late in the year to get crops planted. In a few months, fifty-one of the party were dead; some of the survivors were deserting to the Indians whose land they had invaded.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamestown_Settlement

Now they are more than 304 million people living in the United States alone. Would that have happened without the courage of the early settlers who did this on a voluntary basis?

mattbrowne's avatar

@Blondesjon – Yes, absolutely, and I’m a supporter of multiple eggs and multiple baskets. We should try different things when it comes to space exploration, see my comment above (Amor asteroids).

mattbrowne's avatar

@Darwin – See my 50% comment above. But there’s a risk. Someone might be alone physically. And talking to relatives on Earth during your final hours will be tough (there’s a time lag of at least 3 minutes and 20 seconds).

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