CS272 – Tech A

How we might go to Mars

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Suicide Mission or Lone-Wolf Exploration?

Even if humans are able to make it to Mars there are still many unanswered questions. The most controversial issue that arises with a mission to Mars is the idea that it might have to be a one-way mission. The United States already possesses the beginnings of the needed technology to send man to Mars; we have already sent robots there. However, in the case of a manned mission, that is only half of the issue. Once an astronaut’s time on Mars is complete how are they supposed to get home? Since the actual spacecraft that carries man to Mars will need to be small, there is no viable way to launch from the surface of Mars with significant force to send it back to Earth. Even if it was decided to send a larger spacecraft to Mars in an attempt to allow for a launch off of the surface, the price would be astronomically large.

This issue has put a major damper on the whole prospect of manned Mars exploration. However, many scientists have argued that sending one man on a one-way mission to Mars would be the best solution. Critics of this idea state that this mission would indeed be a suicide mission and funding for such missions should be cut immediately. Many proponents of this idea argue that this would not be a suicide mission at all; it would be more a “lone-wolf” mission in which all of human civilization would be watching one man set foot on the moon. Still, many view this as an unacceptable mission.

In order to please all those opposed to this notion of a suicide mission, many have argued that the one-way mission of a single man would only be the beginning of many more to come. Many scenarios have been revealed that seems to solve many of the issues. One such scenario consists of sending a single man to Mars to begin setting up the beginnings of a colony. 26 month later (this is the window for launching Mars missions based on orbital physics) another spacecraft would be sent to Mars containing another individual to help with the construction of a biosphere. So the idea is that there will be only one person there for a short period of time. This pattern would continue until the technology existed to send multiple people per spacecraft to Mars.

Another scenario builds off of the above. In this situation, a man and a woman of reproductive age would be sent to Mars together. The idea is that they will create an “Adam and Eve” situation and create the beginnings of a civilization in Mars. Some years later, another “couple” will be sent to Mars to aide in the population of Mars.

Yet another scenario that combines the above is one in which many individuals would be sent to Mars in either single-manned missions or multiple-manned missions and create a population of roughly 150 people. This should allow for a significantly diverse gene pool and the population of Mars would grow quickly and diversely.

The ultimate goal in all of these situations is to find a way to populate Mars and create a livable colony on the Red Planet by using the least amount of money. By sending humans on a one-way mission, the need to launching from Mars is eliminated and instead of trying to cram enough supplies in a small ship to launch from Mars, we can provide the travelers with more supplies they might need on the Red Planet.

The simplest and most cost-efficient way of populating Mars is a series of one-way manned missions. It is up to each individual to determine if they believe these missions are suicide missions or “lone-wolf” exploration.







posted by John Doe at 5:16 PM  


  1. Based on the current technologies as well as those that may be developed before we plot a manned mission to Mars, I don’t see the one-way trip as something to plan on. Yes you might have to prepare for it in case things go wrong, but I believe that we will have the right technology to get anyone home that wants to go home.

    Comment by obee4 — November 29, 2010 @ 3:10 AM

  2. okay, but boneloss and radiation from the trip is going to take it’s toll–maybe we should allow lifers and capital punishment folks to set up a prison colony (Australia) 😉

    Comment by nanjess — November 30, 2010 @ 11:45 AM

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