Saturday, October 1, 2016

Would you go?

Elon Musk has announced that he plans to start sending colony ships to Mars with about 100 people on board within ten years. It would be a one-way trip, making it sound a lot like the beginning of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. He also said they should be prepared to die -- not in the sense of living there for the rest of their lives, but in the sense of the huge potential for accidents and large-scale failures in such an environment. That reminds me of the words of the glorious Gus Grissom: "If we die we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life." For those of you who don't know (and shame on you), Grissom died in a fire in the Apollo 1 spacecraft. If that hadn't happened, NASA was planning for him to be the first man on the Moon.

Musk said he would like to go to Mars himself but he has children and wants them to grow up with a father. I'm of the same mind: if I had no family (and were healthy enough to even be considered in the first place), I'd probably put my name in the running. But the most important thing I'll ever do is be a father to my kids and a husband to my wife. Matthew McConaughey's character in Interstellar said (quoting his deceased wife), something to the effect of, "Once your children are born, your only purpose in life is to be memories for your kids."

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