Stick Out Your Thumb, Hitchhike to Mars

Would you take a one-way ticket off this rock? Because Mars One, a self-proclaimed not-for-profit organization aiming to establish a human settlement on Mars, is offering one. The company says that they intend to use already existing, readily available technology to create the colony and the biggest media spectacle this side of the Milky Way to fund it. Their upfront commercialism both oozes slime (in so many words they intend to make a reality show of the entire process from astronaut selection to the daily grind on Big Red) and a strangely refreshing realism but it is the Frequently Asked Questions section that really gets the blood flowing.

Almost impressively in tune with their audience the first question hits a high note, “Is this for real?” Their answer: “Yes it is!” is followed by a plethora of pithy blather about financing, voting for your favorite bachelorette–I mean astronaut candidate, possible health issues and success rates (to which the obvious answers are: lots and they recommend you ask NASA but about 50% give or take), the application process, and so on. A hidden gem about the ethics of emigrating to another planet is tucked away between psychological issues (Mars One plans to keep them too busy to have any of that schmuck) and religion (which they seem to think a non-issue considering the lack of convertible life forms) that rambles about the thousands of Europeans who shipped off to Australia with only a one-way ticket who turned out fine. Besides technology develops awfully fast, they are sure to have the option of a return flight soon enough (how long have I been waiting for a flying car?).

But here is the plan, four individuals will leave for the fourth rock from the sun September 2022. And then… well, then, other groups of four will follow every two years or so. Details to be determined and/or announced, blah blah blah.

Family tree time though. Mars One is a Netherlands based non-profit company which owns approximately 90% of Interplanetary Media Group, a Dutch for-profit company responsible for the reality show (though donations are, of course, welcome). Fun fact: the Netherlands are a constitutional monarchy.

This author loves a royal family as much as the next study abroad student, and if the Dutch do the work and want to plant their red, white and blue flag in the new colony that is all well and good. But what pray tell will the Martian politics look like? As it happens, the Frequently Asked Questions section answers that as well, more or (mostly) less. In so many words, the cosmic colonists will be left to figure out the governmental structure for themselves. With only four, Mars One suspects “that most decisions will be collective and require unanimity, but as the community grows it will become necessary to develop more complex systems for managing conflict and maintaining effective ways to make decisions.”

Mars One also plans to “provide training and a database of knowledge about human social organization to assist in that process as the settlement grows.” Will the Queen get a say? How about the sponsors? Or those people who vote for reality TV shows like American Idol? Funnily enough, first year civil procedure never mentioned anything about independent intergalactic jurisdictional bases. If you feel as if you are losing sleep on the unsettledness of it all, fear not. Most authorities not listed on the Mars One website seem to think the whole plot far-fetched and painfully underfunded, the applicants have a better chance hitching a ride to Ares with Ford Prefect. Just don’t forget your towel.

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