Pick up your boarding pass to Mars! (deadline: Sept 30, 2019)
Well, okay, it’s just your name stenciled on a silicon chip aboard the Mars 2020 rover (yet to be named). But soon, my darlings, soon your citizenship could change. You could be a Martian.
WHY on earth would we want to leave the earth?
Well… Science… leadership… frontier… human preservation. That’s why.
If the calculations are right, our sun (the same one responsible for life-giving heat and light) will one day engulf us all. This event is at least 5 billion years away, but nonetheless it’s good to have a plan.
Humans have not been to space (International Space Station aside) since Apollo 17. That was December 1972. But NASA, with the support of private companies and pioneering entrepreneurs, is getting close to changing that.
Return to the Moon: Artemis
This July 2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of the FIRST moonwalk. If you’re a space geek like me and want to have a souvenir to mark the occasion, you can pick up a commemorative stamp at the USPS in July.
It’s hard to believe it’s been five decades since we’ve been boots-on-the-ground exploring faraway terrain. A follow-up mission is on the rise! The mission is named Artemis, after the Greek goddess and twin sister of Apollo. See where this is going? THIS mission will include the first WOMAN (some reports say two).
NASA has proposed this will be accomplished by 2024. They’ve enlisted the help of eleven companies and 50 billion dollars to design and develop reusable heavy lift systems (the old Saturn V rockets were one-and-done disposable), proper spacecraft and a mini space station. The goal is to have a long-term presence – a lunar BASE – for missions to Mars!
Getting humans to Mars is Possible
The problem is engineering and economics. Mars is Tricky! Landing is difficult because of the air. It’s too thick for rockets and too thin for parachutes, which is why 50% of missions fail.
The launch, itself, requires some ingenuity. A powerful rocket is needed to lift a large payload. We’ll need to bring resources as well as a rocket to get back! A powerful rocket amounts to a few billion dollars. And it’s a long trip – 9 months – with certain windows of time to travel when Mars and Earth line up.
Once there and beyond the obvious food sourcing and homesteading issues, there are other life-threatening conditions. It’s cold! MINUS 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The atmosphere on Mars is 100 times thinner than Earth and it’s 95% Carbon Dioxide (i.e. poisonous to humans). We’ll need Oxygen masks to breathe and Spacesuits to protect us from the cosmic rays which can cut through DNA.
It’s a lot to consider, but Elon Musk created a company to do just that!
Space X plans to Colonize Mars
Elon Musk, known for his connections to Paypal and Tesla, founded the rocket company Space X in 2002. Its main purpose is to create the technology needed to establish a city on Mars. Elon Musk wants people to go to Mars for $500K.
Space X currently has a 20-year lease with access to Launchpad 39 – the same one used for the Apollo missions. As noted, the Apollo missions used disposable Saturn V rockets, the only launch vehicles to carry humans beyond low earth orbit as of the date of this entry. That will soon change.
Elon Musk has been developing his Falcon Heavy Rockets since 2012. These rockets are reusable and have twice the carrying capacity of other massive rockets, allowing the launch of larger payloads, such as supplies needed on Mars.
There’s a Tesla Roadster orbiting the Sun
The Falcon Heavy Rocket made its maiden launch on February 6, 2018, carrying a Tesla Roadster as the dummy payload. Because… why not?! There really is a Tesla Roadster orbiting the sun!
Credit: Space X
The second Falcon Heavy launch occurred on April 11, 2019, with all three boosters returning to Earth to land. You can watch it here. At this rate, it won’t be long before Mars truly might be colonized!
Be George Jetson, Elroy, Judy, or Jane (his wife)
If you’re not down with a permanent new residence or even a visit to the cold, poisonous planet Mars, you might be a candidate for a free-floating space pod colony instead.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, the world’s wealthiest person, and founder of Blue Origin seeks to design and develop habitable colonies that will float close to the earth. They’ll be zoned residential and light industrial, approximately 20 miles long and 4 miles in diameter. According to Bezos, “They’ll be pleasant… your favorite places on their best days.” He envisions trillions of people living and working on these floating pods.
If all of this talk of Mars and space living is too far-fetched for you, maybe a short ride is something you’d consider – a trip into and back from space. Blue Origin is testing a suborbital rocket that will fly tourists into space (it’s only 62 miles away). The vehicle, dubbed New Shepherd, will bring six passengers into space.
Credit: Blue Origin
Observation windows will allow travelers to see the planet for a few minutes before the capsule returns to Earth. Blue Origin plans to launch citizen astronauts soon – within the year. This trip could run you somewhere around $250K. The future is now.
Juliana is an entertainer and writer. She’s currently working on a book about her Life With A Monkey. Check out her website at www.julianafay.com.