Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, is a long-standing proponent of colonizing Mars. He recently addressed a USA Senate Subcommittee. When talking to politicians, Aldrin emphasizes the need for America to demonstrate its leadership and stay ahead of other nations, but other organizations – and Aldrin himself – have a wider interest in colonizing the Red Planet.
Among other private, non-governmental organizations, Mars One has been in the news. Mars One is making a serious effort to send people, near-term, one-way, to Mars. While there is skepticism, there are also people ready to go.
One reason to colonize Mars is to create a second human home in case something bad happens to Earth. This is a lofty goal, but it’s also abstract. No one thinks any large number of people could be sent to Mars – we Earthlings would all be stuck here on Earth trying to survive the “something bad.”
Colonizing Mars will require a commitment to the abstract – to go to Mars because it’s there, because we can (maybe, soon), or because it’s destiny. Aldrin has written that “humanity is destined to explore, settle, and expand outward into the universe.”
As I sit on the patio of my favorite coffee shop, nibbling a scone and watching people stroll by on a sunny spring day, colonizing Mars seems unlikely, dismaying, and unnerving. But as a Mars One semi-finalist says, “we stagnate here on Earth. We are so predictable… This project is an opportunity to break through… We will be a totally new kind of human, homo sapiens Martianis.”
Good luck, Martianis.