Great. Now a mathematician is going to mess up the one-way Mars Spectacle


I promise you.  I’m not a sadist.  But there is a side to me that gets a small, if not mildly sardonic kick out of watching people line up like lemmings for a mission on which they are GUARANTEED to die.

Let me give you the basic backstory.  Mars One, a not-for-profit organization, wants to go to Mars.  They need people to go.  Those people are never coming back, because . . . well . . . you know. Technology.

And, people are lining up–yes–willing to pay exorbitant prices to go die on another planet. And my guess is, the guy that gets to be “first” gets a meet and greet with the Krakken, or something.  Either way, the nihilistic feel to this is somehow masked in the greater glories of exploratory unknowns.  But at the end of it, people are wanting to die on purpose.

And. . .  well, I sort of want to watch. Not for the gross convulsions and sudden loss of air they might suffer–or any other of the myriad of possibilities on that planet–if they even make it. I want to see if we really have crossed a sad Rubicon that has elevated science to such a plinth of spiritual gravity, that others are willing to trust in that as their god.

Even more odd is this.  There is now a moral objection to it.  Not exactly the one I would think might arise. Nope. It isn’t Life that’s sacred here.

It’s budget glitches:

“Right now it’s unfeasible to do a one way mission to Mars, essentially because the costs grow unsustainably over time,” says Sydney Do, a PhD candidate in aeronautics and astronautics at MIT who authored the skeptical study of Mars One.

The problem, Do says, is how to supply and maintain the systems needed to keep the crew alive. The outpost would need to be regularly resupplied with spare parts to keep functioning for an indefinite amount of time. As the outpost grew — and the Mars One plan calls for four people to be sent every two years — it would need even more parts.”

That’s all we needed.  Here we were, perfectly happy with the protracted plans to launch a flesh-and-blood set of 3POs and R2s into space, and Scooter Computer had to show up with his abacus and start showing discrepancies in the ledger.

Guys like that were beaten up where I came from. That’s all I’m saying.

Look, I’m okay with saving the lives of a few self-important,  postmodernist astronauts from hermetically-sealing themselves into a giant MRE container.  If that means some saucer-eyed bookkeeper’s going to throw a dowel into the spokes, fine.  But we’re getting to the point now, that the next shuttle mission isn’t going to be scrubbed because Adrian Monk spotted a flagging heater tile at t-minus ten seconds to ignition–it’s going to be scrubbed because NASA forgot to smog the burners it before it hit the tarmac.

It’s not the fact that the thing might never happen.  I just wish the moratoriums would happen for reasons that have a little meat to them–like maybe letting it happen–once.

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