Re: One Way Trip to Mars?
The biggest hurdle to leap before this plan stops being science-fiction, though, is the self-sustainability problem any Mars colony would face. Getting someone (or a group of someones) on Mars is tricky enough, having that individual or group be dependent on a constant stream of supply ships (as the ISS is, for example) is a surefire disaster (and probably outright impossible, given the issues with launch windows). For a colony to be viable, they would need a way to replenish their own supply of food, water, and oxygen. The ability of people to do that successfully, at this point, is questionable at best.
Thinking out loud, I'm guessing you'd probably need to spend a few years just doing a massive number of "cargo launches" to put the components of a colony onto Mars (nuclear reactor of some sort, habitats, labs, etc.), a year or two of "consumables launches" (water, food, etc. to keep the colonists alive until they colony can start sustaining itself), follow with an initial flight of people to construct the main colony and finally follow with the final main flights of colonists. Looking at it that way, it becomes an extremely long term project. Long term projects are nice, but it's hard to operate when at any time, the budget can be re-adjusted by a new administration or new set of priorities in Washington.
The other big problem with the plan is it's the kind of thing you can't go halfway on -- you need to go big. If you're looking to establish a permanent colony, you need more than just the sci-fi movie cast of 7-8 science-type people. I don't know that you can find enough people willing to risk their lives on such a mission who ALSO have the necessary skills to be successful and productive colonists.
23 Years and Counting...
Last edited by Caveat Emperor; 10-28-2010 at 04:32 PM.