A Vision of the End
I apologize in advance for the stream-of-consciousness/surrealism of today’s comic. Given the source material, it actually makes perfect sense, and I already cut out a whole section involving theoretical physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft windsurfing in Oakley’s and nobel prize bling—which would have only confused things further. Instead I chose to give you all peek into my vision of reality television on Mars, and channel Ray Bradbury in the process. Because I love drawing martians.
Sending humans to Mars is a tricky prospect. It’s a long trip, and by the time you get there, you’re travelling in an empty can with a protective shield of human waste and food wrappers, drinking your recycled urine. Also, I’ve heard that the inside of the space shuttle begins to look like a snowglobe after a week—it takes approximately 214 days to get to Mars. Then, after all that, you have to come back.
Unless, of course, you don’t. With the topic of human expeditions to Mars, invariably comes the technically brilliant yet ethically fuzzy notion of a one-way trip. Like the settlers and pilgrims of old, these brave space-farers would be playing for keeps. Surprisingly, finding volunteers isn’t the hard part. Finding financial backing is another matter. Nobody wants to be the one to send people on a “suicide mission*.” That’s where Mars One comes in. As explained in the comic, they’ve come up with an opportunistic way to fund the trip. Take a look.
I would have given a hundred dollars to be at that meeting. I’d also give money to find out how ‘t Hooft got involved, as when I last saw him at the 2011 World Science Festival, backing the biggest media event since blood sports was not where I would have expected him to branch out next. To his credit, producing a television show around a historic spaceflight in order to fund said expedition is pretty genius, and I’m tentatively on board**. UPDATE: An ambitious redditor contacted the man himself for answers, and posted the reply.
I only compare it to gladiatorial combat because of the distinct possibility that something could go terribly wrong, such as the crew going insane from some sort of Mars sickness or being eaten by some ancient sand monster. Don’t get too excited about that second one. Or the first one, really.
In fact, aside from the novelty of playing Big Brother to a crew of astronauts, it’s quite likely that the show will be really boring by reality TV standards. After all, Mars One is not going to send bumbling beach-bums Pookie and Sonny D to Mars, they’re going to send Cmdr. Francis and Capt. Edwards, who have both been heavily vetted to be both psychologically fit and trained to handle the unique situations that come with such a long journey. There’s going to be a lot of instrument checks and “Go on starboard thruster, two degrees mark” kind of stuff, and not a lot of getting drunk at a club and punching people.
That’s not to say I wouldn’t watch it, though. I’m rooting for the sand monster.
*A complete misnomer. They would be colonists.
**To watch the show. Though there’s no telling what I’d do if somebody just walked up and asked , “Hey, want to go to Mars? Shuttle’s leaving now.” I don’t think I could leave everything behind at the drop of a hat, but I’m also the kind of guy that’s so excited about space that if I went into orbit and died on a spacewalk, it’d be worth it. Totally worth it.