The first humans on Mars ought to arrive before the end of my lifetime unless my lifestyle disapproves of me being alive between now and then. The people who go on that mission, and it’s going to be a long one, will have to be of the type who are focused and dedicated, and for the privilege of being the first there, they’ll have to lose a great deal of time doing normal human stuff like family and friends and dogs. It will take the better part of two years to get there, I would suppose they would stay on Mars for a while, and then fly two years back. That’s a very long time.
Magellan’s trip around the world took three years and he never saw the end. But at any point he could have landed somewhere and found people, food, water, help maybe, and the environment wasn’t so hostile that it would have killed him in a matter of minutes. If the AE-35 Unit on the trip to Mars dies on them then they better have a spare or they’re just out of luck. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have some important part fail and there be no replacement. Oh, we have enough air to last us a few days then that’s it. That’s not impossible, you know.
And that’s just in the two years getting there.
Once there they have to land, and by then we’ll have a much better understanding of where’s the best place, and if we’re smart we will have landed a bunch of stuff there already, for the First People on Mars to use. I imagine the first couple of days will be filled with both giddiness and more than a little fever. Everything they do will be a first in many ways. The first bowel movement on Mars, the first dream on Mars, the first meal on Mars, the first sunset, sunrise, moon rise, moon set, the first falling start seen there, and the list goes on. There most certainly will be a mixed gender crew and the first sexual encounter ought to be interesting.
How long can we keep humans on Mars, at what expense, and for what gain? Certainly, just to prove we can put people there is enough in the beginning, but can we actually colonize the planet? Whose laws govern this? What will be the ultimate goal of those who go? Will we have reached a point that science in the name of science will be enough to keep people coming and going there? We abandoned the moon in the late 60’s, so how can we hope to have the heart for Mars? It frightens me that we lack the desire to explore.
So let’s say we send eight people; four couples just to keep things simple. These eight people will spend no less than ten years together. They’ll have to train together for a couple of years, and it is likely they won’t know at that point if they’ve been selected or not. Then, once they are selected the training will get more intense, and each couple knows that both parties are one when it comes to this thing. They have to know they have to play nice all the time with everyone to keep a seat on the ride. That, in and of itself, would take a lot of doing for some people and a lot more for others. Imagine it like this: You are in the eighth grade. You are in a small town where everyone knows everyone else. The beginning of High School is a year off. Graduation is at least five years away. Imagine what you’ll go through before you’re out of school. That’s about the length of this mission, if not longer.
Impressed with the time yet?
So we’re done with time. Let’s talk about space. Space the living room not the vacuum. They ship is going to have to be a lot bigger than a standard sized apartment. There will have to be room to exercise, eat meals, work, and perhaps, play. Having eight people in a small area is a recipe for weightless fist fights and all sorts of weirdness. There has to be some of black room, where each person or couple can go to get away from everyone else. I’m thinking about 1500 square feet of space, total, for the ship. But the damn thing is going to be packed with food and equipment, so it might be even more.
One way around this is for there to be stuff they can pick up on the way there. That would be damn tricky but totally doable. Two of the people onboard would have to be physicians. I’m thinking there would have to be some sort of redundant birth control, of course, because a baby born in a space station, or on Mars, would be a hell of a lot of trouble. Can you imagine a screaming infant all the way back from Mars? Are we there yet are we there yet are we there yet?
Once they get there, I wonder how long they’ll be allowed to stay? Surely no less than a year, perhaps. That’s where my theory that the landing site will already have some stuff air dropped and operating before the first people arrive, and maybe some robots setting up a secure building. How Sweet Home would await our Great Eight, the first humans on Mars! After the initial call home, and the cheer and Champaign back on Earth, the first people on Mars would have to get busy so the planet wouldn’t kill them.
It’s possible, you know, that the eight sent would know something that only NASA and a few others knew before they left; it’s a one way trip. These are permanent residents who will set up what is needed for more people and in some years to follow, a colony. They would be the first people to live on Mars and to die there. I would go if they allowed it, you know.