And don't come back

An interesting article from the NY Times:

Without some radical improvements in technology, the prospects for sending astronauts on a round-trip to Mars any time soon are slim, whatever the presidential rhetoric. What's more, the president's suggestion of using the Moon as a base ? a place to assemble equipment and produce fuel for a Mars mission less expensively ? has the potential to turn into a costly sideshow. There is, however, an obvious way to slash the costs and bring Mars within reach of early manned exploration. The answer lies with a one-way mission.


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Would it be right to ask

Would it be right to ask people to accept such conditions for the sake of science, or even humanity? The answer has to be yes. We already expect certain people to take significant risks on our behalf, such as special forces operatives or test pilots. Some people gleefully dice with death in the name of sport or adventure. Dangerous occupations that reduce life expectancy through exposure to hazardous conditions or substances are commonplace.

I don't see the nanny-staters letting this one fly. Then again, Air Force pilots are given speed for long cross-continental flights, so you never know...

This is beginning to sound

This is beginning to sound much like the premise of a sci-fi book by Kim Stanley Robinson called Red Mars. A team of willing individuals, each with a certain expertise like engineering, farming, physics, etc, were selected to go to Mars (one way) and build colonies on the planet. To re-create the barren conditions of Mars, the group lived in Antarctica for a year to "practice" some of their techniques before the journey. Good book, although I only got about one-third into it before being sidetracked. Maybe I should go back to it.

Good book, although I only

Good book, although I only got about one-third into it before being sidetracked. Maybe I should go back to it.

I read all 3 and was disappointed. The terraforming happened too fast, and the biggest plot device was an anti-aging treatment that had nothing to do with Mars. And KSR is the anti-Heinlein, so he doesn't win any points from me in that regard.

Wait a sec.... Kim Stanley

Wait a sec.... Kim Stanley Robinson is a dude?

Dude...he's a dude...

Dude...he's a dude...

I've always assumed he was

I've always assumed he was female, but I haven't read the books. Hearing of their socialist slant probably reinforced the idea. Interestingly, I've known a man in real life named Kim, too.

I read KSR's Mars books a

I read KSR's Mars books a while back, before I had any non-default philosophy. I suspect they would irritate the crap out of me if I re-read them now. I recently read Greg Bear's Moving Mars, which was also disappointing, as the protagonists start out in principled resistance to the Earth authorities, but end up emulating them.

I've also lost my ability to enjoy Arthur C. Clark and Isaac Asimov. The socialist world-view seems to require a really brutally depressing conception of human nature that I find repulsive.