Monday, March 4, 2013

Do you *really* love your spouse? Want to go to Mars?




It would be ideal...for someone I am sure.

Millionaire Dennis Tito is seeking married couples to send on a mission to Mars in 2018.  The mission would not include landing on the planet, but instead would be a relatively quick flyby.  Why a married couple?  Tito claims that such a crew choice would be in order to help combat loneliness of such a mission.  " "When you're out that far and the Earth is a tiny, blue pinpoint, you're going to need someone you can hug," Tito told SPACE.com. "What better solution to the psychological problems you're going to encounter with that isolation?" "  Speculation on other reasons include experimenting with how sex and procreation would be handled in space.  Which is honestly a valid area of interest in terms of humanity moving out into the universe.

Tito is not shy about the technical challenges such a mission faces.  I'm talking about challenges before the thing even gets off the ground.  For the spacecraft itself, the design team has been using the Dragon capsule by SpaceX as a base model.  The problem there being that Dragon has only thus far carried cargo (and with a great many trials ahead of it yet.)  Unknowns should never be a dealbreaker to a project's vision, however.

I like the fact that this is getting space and Mars exploration further into the public discussion.  As much of a non-business person as I am, I do understand that our best hope of a robust space program sits with the corporate sector.  That includes space tourism.  And yet...and yet...I just can't go for this program, personally.  Why, you might ask?

For one thing, the mission will not land on Mars.  There is no way I could stand being that close to another planet and not being able to walk on its surface.  Especially Mars.  You mean all I can do is stare down at the Red Planet, admiring it like some ruby jewel or bibelot in the black?  No thanks.  I'd be jumping out of my skin, whining "I wanna see Cydonia!" like a five year-old in a mini van on the way to Disney World, assuring that my unknown crewmate would toss me out the airlock.

That brings me to my second and most important point.  The mission is planned to last 501 days.  All jokes about Asia Carrera aside, there is no one in creation that I could handle being alone with for that length of time.  It would take a rare couple indeed who could survive such an experience.  Keep in mind that much of that is due to my own quirky proclivities and need for alone time, but still...imagine yourself trapped in a tiny tin can (euphemism) with no recourse or anywhere else to go.  Not my idea of a good time.

That shouldn't stop you from considering it, though.

 If it appeals to you. 


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