Plans Set for Colonization of Mars by Year 2022

marscolonyA private venture by Dutch company Mars One, a non-profit organization, plans to send a crew to Mars in the near future. The one-way trip to Mars, as explained in an article on Time Newsfeed, aims to sign up a group of people to colonize Mars. As if that were not remarkable enough, they expect to do so in less than ten years’ time. Is this enough time to adequately prepare and plan for a one-way trip into space?

With the ominous reality that a trip to Mars would mean living out the rest of your life on the Red Planet, you might expect the number of volunteers to be relatively low. However, over 78,000 volunteers have already come forward with a variety of hopes and dreams for the future colonization of Mars.

The project estimates the costs will be around $6 billion according to the article, but the group has not even raised $100,000. It is unclear how much a setback lack of funds might be to the timeline. Mars One has stated that the people who travel to Mars will receive 8 years of training in order to handle the project. With only a nine year timeline, eight years of training won’t leave much leeway for setbacks in development. The question is whether this is even a realistic goal, or if the company will merely push to meet the stated timeline and potentially sacrifice crewmembers and plans in the process. If they cut corners to try and meet funding and deadlines, they may end up with questionable quality products or people who don’t have adequate training and emotional readiness for the colonization of Mars.

Nine years, with eight years of training, is an extremely short amount of time to try and organize the successful elements for colonizing Mars. Mars One is not even requiring specific knowledge bases for their recruits either, opting instead to focus on people who are creative, work well with others, and are easily adaptable. While those characteristics are important, it seems ludicrous to send people without first having planned for the basic necessary skill sets: Builders, inventors, programmers, botanists, geologists, doctors, etc. These people might be okay without skills sets if they had access to the internet while on Mars. It would be more time consuming since they would need to try and learn applicable subjects as a point of reference, but at least they would have access to helpful information. There is no guarantee whatsoever that the crew would have access to any type of help. Depending on how the colonization of Mars is achieved, the team—assuming it even arrives safely—may be completely on their own in developing the colony.

It also seems that the company is assuming the team will have the necessary building materials or means to extract and create building materials from the planet to create the colony. If that is not the case, has the ship been planned in such a way that the crew can live on it until the next load of supplies arrives on Mars? Even if the materials are included and the crew is able to successfully build a structure, there may be environmental factors which put the colonization of Mars and the colonists in danger.

We know a little bit about space travel, so we aren’t completely ignorant of some of the adverse effects on the body and mind. Hopefully Mars One will have multiple trained psychologists to help treat disorders. Will there be medications for the trip, will a chemist need to specially create necessary medication, or will people have to do without? Does that scenario put the colonists at potential risk? There is still much that we are unaware of, and one of the most difficult factors to overcome is the length of time it takes to travel in space. Whether or not anything goes wrong during the colonization of Mars, the reality is that unless we first develop more efficient and secure means of space travel, we should not attempt the colonization of Mars.

Proper planning procedures

It is the duty of any entity that undertakes a project to make its intent clear, to do a thorough assessment of the potential risks involved and to convey that risk honestly and openly to those who are involved. This is especially true when Mars One is asking people to embark upon a potential suicide mission or at the very least an adventure that will result in becoming a permanent resident of the “Red Planet”. The grim reality of what the colonization of Mars might entail is difficult to visualize, and the mental stress that might ensue after the colonists arrive on Mars and try to live there for a while, could put the project and colonists at risk.

It is an ethical obligation to collect as much information as possible before embarking on an idea like the colonization of Mars. We have only just recently been able to collect data from the surface which may not be enough for us to properly assess the environment. We need to improve our space travel capabilities drastically so that we can travel in a short amount of time and send out exploratory teams first. Based upon the observations and feedback of exploratory teams, Mars One would be much better equipped to plan the successful colonization of Mars. Without proper exploring, observation, and even experimentation, the project is a fledgling attempt to create a historical moment which may end up in tragedy instead of joy. This is definitely an unrealistic timeline for a project of this magnitude.