Criticize Mars One, but Don't Stand in Their Way

Wednesday August 19, 2015

•  colonization •  futures studies •  Mars •  space exploration • 

I couldn’t make it to the Mars One feasability debate at the Mars Society Convention, but IEEE Spectrum has a nice summary. While I still won’t step into the question of feasibility, MIT participant Sydney Do really misses the point:

But Do voiced an even bigger concern after the debate: if Mars One deflates, what will happen when the next plan to go to Mars comes along? Even if the new effort is deemed technically sound and eminently accomplishable, will anyone pay it any mind?

This is not a problem. English settlement of North America traditionally dates to the 1607 establishment of Jamestown, in what is now Virginia. But twenty years earlier, the English established their first colony at Roanoke. This colony disappeared after five years, in 1590, and rather mysteriously. Four hundred-odd years on, nobody knows what happened.

But that didn’t stop anyone. In the following two decades, the English established four new colonies; the French established three, and one failed; and the Spanish established two. The nature of exploration is risk. The nature of Mars One’s potential failure will determine the path future attempts take. And that’s good. But to presuppose there is too great a chance of nobody trying after the first failure is a line of inductive reasoning that never ends. And that’s a risk too great to take.

Image by Mars One.