Fly me to the ... well, Mars. Yeah, fly me there


As an individual who carries a sharp tongue and very little comprehension of what is and what isn’t acceptable to say to others, I have been told to go to various places throughout my lifetime.

Those directions typically lead to flying a kite, or taking a long walk off a short pier or the ever-popular place down below that is most frequently associated with demons, pitchfork-carrying villains or departed members of boy bands over the years. To be fair, I might have made up that last part, but a guy can dream, right?

Regardless, yours truly has been directed to go to more places than I can ever remember, and those instructions have not always been provided by travel consultants. Nor have they been communicated with what I would consider proper etiquette, now that I think about it, and that leads me to wonder whatever happened to manners in this country when one small comment is met with ...

But I digress.

The places I have been directed to by some of the thinner-skinned people of the world notwithstanding, there are some destinations I would love to someday see. I’ve always dreamt of experiencing the pyramids in Egypt, the reefs of Australia and the mountains of Tibet. I’d like to one day see the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong and the more casual lifestyle of the Montana fly-fisherman. Who wouldn’t want to see the bottom of the ocean floor or wake up every morning with a piping hot cup of coffee and look out on the landscape of Mars?

Mars?

Yup. The Mars One foundation, a Dutch company, is moving forward with plans to send four Earthlings to Mars “to colonize the Red Planet,” according to a story on cnn.com. The company has contracted Lockheed Martin to study building a robotic lander for an unmanned mission launch in 2018, and Surrey Satellite Technology to develop a concept study for a communications satellite. If all goes to plan, according to the story, the first pioneers could be stepping foot on Mars in 2025.

As interesting as that sounds, and it certainly grabs my attention, would you really be willing to be one of four Earthlings to go to Mars in hopes of colonizing it? Besides our globe-trotting photographer R. Chris Clark, is there anybody else I could think of who would willingly say goodbye to everybody and everything they know to literally leave this planet and venture out into the great unknown? Unless leaving this atmosphere automatically wipes out your debt, outstanding warrants or responsibility to paint the garage, I couldn’t think of anyone.

Apparently, I don’t know enough people.

Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp said that more than 200,000 people have signed up to be prospective astronauts since the project’s first announcement in April. The books are now closed on new applicants, but Lansdorp said the company plans to notify those who advanced to the next round of screenings by the end of the year. Can you imagine this conversation?

“Mr. Jones?”

“Yes?”

“This is Bas Lansdorp from Mars One. After carefully reviewing your application, we have determined that you have made it to the next round of interviews for becoming one of four people on this planet to colonize Mars.”

“Wait. You’re serious? I was just trying to impress a girl and filled that out on my iPhone at a bar. How long is this trip?”

“Well, it’s forever, Mr. Jones. This will be your new life.”

“Ummmm ... Thank you for calling, and I apologize for my long and strange recording. Please leave a message at the sound of the beep and I will get back with you as soon as possible. Beeeeeeep.”

“Mr. Jones? Hello?”

Landsdorp did say that the majority of funding for this project will come from sponsors and partners, not public contributions, so we don’t have to jump on a soapbox and complain about tax dollars. He also said there is a reality TV concept in the works (Aha!), which could help with the financing, as well as offer hope to many of us that it will in fact be four bearded men with a fondness for ducks, or a certain family whose name rhymes with “Bardashian” who ultimately get launched to Mars.

But, like most things in life, this is going to require significant dollars to become a reality (and, yeah, I realized how I was using “reality” there).

“You can’t go to Mars on excitement,” said Lansdorp.

No, it will require fuel. And maybe a contract with A&E.