Monday, 9 May 2011

Fancy an Exile to Mars?

I’ve written about the warnings of commercial spaceflight before here. Is there now even more cause to worry? Elon Musk (founder of SpaceX, the company bringing cheap orbital access to the nations) is reported to have indicated that his Dragon capsule, by benefit of the planned crew evacuation module, could land people on Mars. What he did not indicate was the means by which to get the capsule to Mars in the first place. Fortunately, that problem is being worked on by both NASA and ESA. More is to be heard about that soon enough, we think.

The idea of doing an Apollo style trip to Mars is what is on most people’s minds when you mention putting man on Mars. But the cost and the logistics for such a mission is frighteningly expensive and scary in terms of the physiological effects on the crew. The list of obstacles is quite long: Radiation exposure, muscle and bone density deterioration in low/micro-gravity, carrying enough fuel to blast off of Mars, getting that fuel safely to the ground on Mars, having enough supplies to survive until Earth catches up with Mars again and the Astronauts can come home without spending an inordinate amount of time in space – a wait of something like 18 months.

All of these factors make the decision makers baulk. It is way too expensive. So how is man ever going to go to Mars? Well, he could go to stay. A crazy thought maybe? Not according to two scientists: Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Paul Davies. They suggest sending people to Mars on a one way trip. This eliminates a lot of the expense of building massive ships carrying the fuel to make the expensive climb out of Mars’ gravity. Then there is the human cost of rehabilitation for the returning astronauts. The savings are offset by the need to resupply the fledgling colony until it has established a working eco-system, but the technology to do that is readily (and now, more cheaply) available.

So what would it be like to be one of the first to go to Mars? And who would be likely to be sent up there? What sort of society would emerge?

I’ve let my mind run on this and have written a Novella that is published as a Kindle eBook. It follows the story of a young man whose unfortunate choice of friends has led him to making the decision to go to Mars and to an uncertain life. The novella’s name is Exile and is available at a very low cost. If you like this idea, why not purchase it from Amazon?

Purchase Exile for the Kindle and Kindle-readers for Android, PC, Linux and Mac.

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