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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
Or else! (06/02/2013)
By Frances Edstrom


You think you’re stressed? Think of Mother Nature, who has to do March winds, April showers and May flowers all in one week! She barely made it before the June deadline. And, by the way, M.N., since we missed the “lusty” part of the month of May, you’d better be ready to deliver a beautiful, warm, dry (but not too dry) month of June. Or else!

Or else what, you might ask. Well, there’s always Mars.

You may have heard of the Mars One mission. The mission is headed by five Netherlanders (too much smoking at the marijuana café?), and one person each from Malaysia, India, Canada, the U.S., and Italy. The goal of the mission is to land four people on Mars by 2023. The four people would live in a series of six pods that would serve as space for living, growing food, water, oxygen, and atmosphere production. I would want to know if there would be room for a vineyard, but maybe that’s just me.

So far, about 80,000 people have applied to go on the mission, and the organizers are expecting around 500,000 total. Seems amazing to me that there are so many people who would want to live with just three other people 24/7/686.98. That long a year would definitely slow down how fast you get to be 80, but I’m not sure your body would know that.

The organizers so far have made about $20 million on applications alone, which leads me to wish I had thought of this scheme. Collect the dough and then right before “take-off” blindfold the dupes and “land” them in Death Valley. It would take people a while to figure it out, and in the meantime you’d have a Manhattan apartment and a flat in Paris, if that’s your cup of tea. Personally, I would stay put and give it all to charity. Ahem.

I went online to look at some of the people who have applied. Most of them are just weirdos. There are a few engineer types (one guy with four children who is probably just trying to avoid paying for college), and at least one transgender person, Melissa from the U.K. Melissa is a pretty cheeky 52-year-old with long platinum hair. She says red is her favorite color, so “how good would I look on Mars!” Part of the application process requires a video that explains the applicant’s reason for wanting to go to Mars. As part of hers, Melissa wrote an “ode.” It goes like this: Mel was here, but not for long. She went to Mars. It went wrong.

A bit of a fatalist, our Mel.

The official language of the expedition will be English, but applicants are not required to speak it. Yet. I imagine it would be frustrating to be on Mars with three other people and not be able to communicate. I can tell you from trying to get directions to the hospital in Italy that it is not easy. Just think how it would be if you’re trying to say, “the oxygen supply is failing” and no one got it. Charades, anyone?

Applicants can’t be shorter than 5 feet or taller than 6 feet, give or take a centimeter. Applicants must be 18, and there is no upper age limit. I still don’t think I should mention this to my mother-in-law, who is 102 this month. I wouldn’t want to get her hopes up.

The finalists, and there will be at least 32 of them, will train for seven years. They will have technical training, medical training, “personal” training and group training.

The first group of four of the trained astronauts to take off for Mars will be chosen by popular vote by those of us on Earth. I think that is to spread the blame around should things go wrong.

If things do go wrong? The Mars One organizers want you to know that there will be no voice contact with those of us on Earth, and that communication would be delayed by between three and twenty-two minutes. “This expanse means the Mars astronauts will have to be very self-sufficient. Should they send down a ‘Houston, we have a problem,’ Houston might not even know about it until 22 minutes later. Even so, we would not be much help: our fastest rocket will be scheduled to arrive six months after the fact.”

Did I mention that the only ticket issued for this mission is one-way? I don’t think it is a job for this English major.



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