SFC William Ruth III.  Image Courtesy William Ruth and Javier Yanes

One-Way Mission to Mars: US Soldiers Will Go

Article Updated: 26 Apr , 2016

by

Sergeant First Class William H. Ruth III contemplates his current duty in a barren landscape in Afghanistan, and says he’s willing to lead a human mission to Mars.

An article published on Universe Today back in March of this year detailing former NASA engineer Jim McLane’s idea for on a one-way, one-person mission to Mars generated a lot of interest. The many comments on the subject posted here on UT and numerous other websites such as ABC News ranged from full support to complete disbelief of the idea. McLane’s concept has literally gone around the world, and a journalist from Spain, Javier Yanes who writes for the newspaper Publico shared with me his correspondence with a US soldier stationed in Afghanistan, who says that battle-hardened soldiers would be the perfect choice to send on a mission of no return to a new world. SFC William H. Ruth III says he and the men in the 101st Airborne Division are ready and willing to go.

SFC Ruth wrote, “While reading Jim McLane and Nancy Atkinson’s thoughts on Space Colonization, I started to realize that we ‘ALL’ have lost our way. We have become so consumed by petty differences and dislikes of others that we all have forgotten our pre destiny of something better.”

And what is the ‘something better’ that Ruth envisions? Military personnel from different countries joining together to make “the ultimate sacrifice” of forging the way to establish an outpost on another world, like Mars.

“Here is an ‘out of the box idea’,” Ruth writes. “Let the heroes of ‘All’ our countries, for once, risk the ultimate sacrifice for something greater than one man’s idea. Maybe once let these men and woman that rise every morning and say ‘today I will stand for something’ and say ‘evil will not prevail, not on my watch’. For once let them volunteer for us all, you never know, mankind, the human race. It might just catch on if we let it.”

Ruth continues, “Will we falter at a hint of death or danger? Or will we do now what so many in ‘ALL’ of the world’s history has done before us. NASA of all thinking societies should understand this. Would there even be an America or NASA if a man named Columbus had not pursued a dangerous and possibly deadly voyage to a new world? He certainly had to consider whether or not he would ever return home to see all those he loved so dearly. But what of those aboard his ships, those that left Spain knowing that they would never return. Those few that willingly risked all for the chance at a new world and a new future, could they have possibly known what effects they would have had on the future due to their sacrifices? Now can we have enough vision to see our destiny, can we, for a moment, see past our petty differences of race and religion to see…peace, prosperity and possibly a new world.”

3rd Platoon at Fire Base Ter-Wa, April 2008. SFC Ruth is first on the left.

Ruth says 15 years in the military has prepared him for such a mission. “So I am no fool and I am no stranger to what some might call high risks,” he says. “Hundreds of thousands of fighting men and woman from around this world have walked, rode, swam and even jumped into what some would call a high risk situation. Some even considered suicide missions, ones with low probability of success. And why, what did they risk all for? Each and every one of us, even those throughout this earth that has made that choice, risk all for what we believed would make our world better.”

Ruth first began pondering such a mission after reading a quote by Stephen Hawking on Space.com: “The discovery of the New World made a profound difference on the old,” Hawking said. “Spreading out into space will have an even greater effect. It will completely change the future of the human race, and maybe determine whether we have any future at all.”

Ruth sent an email to Space.com’s Anthony Duignan-Cabrera, which was posted on the LiveScience blog: “Here is an idea: Send battle-hardened, strong-minded soldiers and marines on the long trips into space. We are conditioned to live with the bare minimal (of) life’s necessities and are trained to be prepared for … the worst conditions that any environment could throw at us. Hell, me and my men will go, set up a colony somewhere and await colonists to arrive.”

Javier Yanes read Ruth’s proposition and contacted him, sending him the link to the Universe Today article with McLane’s idea.

Ruth responded by sending Yanes a written statement called “A Soldier’s Perspective;,” Yanes wrote an article about Ruth in Publico, and shared Ruth’s proposal and pictures with me.

Ruth doesn’t agree with McLane’s idea of a one-person mission to Mars, but supports the one-way idea.

“I fully agree with NASA and others that it is completely dangerous and potentially deadly for anyone who sets out on this voyage,” he wrote. “But since when has that ever stopped anyone? A one way trip is the way to go about this, it is a proven fact of human history that when the human species is thrown into a no alternative situation, that they will prevail and survive.

The military would never send someone out alone, and Ruth thinks a multiple ship mission is the way to proceed, with three to four smaller vessels, with four to six crew members each.

Ruth admits that other might see sending soldiers into space as more like an invasion or occupation than exploration. “To those who share this concern, consider this for a moment and ask yourself, who else?” Ruth asked. “Who else has the mentality to volunteer to face certain danger and possibly death, thousands of miles away from their homes? I could think of a few hundred thousand that do it everyday across this planet.”

Ruth says that getting the worlds militaries involved with something other than making war with each other could change humanity’s future for the better.

“I wonder who will be the first to extend the hand of complete partnership, representing the whole human species?” Ruth asks. “Could this be the answer that so many have searched for? Could this one thing unite humanity in a new era of global cooperation and a new planetary respect for human life, unlike we know it today? My answers… ask me again when I’ve reached the new world!”


102 Responses

  1. Ian O'Neill says:

    I was going to volunteer for this mission, but then I read this article. I think I’ll leave it to Ruth, he’s far more qualified… and way braver 🙂

    Great interview again Nancy!

    Ian

  2. Meh. I’m no soldier and I’d be willing to go too. I just need a lawn chair for the last moments of air.

  3. Skunkwaffle says:

    This guy really has it all figured out doesn’t he. This is absolutely exactly what needs to happen.

  4. Isaac says:

    Truly admirable

  5. Nat says:

    I agree with quite a bit that this guy has to say. Hopefully our first mission to Mars can be an internationally collaborative one rather than a showy display of technological strength.

  6. tacitus says:

    If a one way manned mission to is ever attempted, it will not be the USA who does it. I just don’t see the American public going along with it.

    It will most likely be the Chinese or possibly the Russians. They would have far more invested in the propaganda of such a mission, and their citizens are much less likely to mount a successful campaign in opposition.

  7. Taft says:

    Ya, what we need to do is spend exponentially more money to get humans to Mars. Them being there will reaaaally make a difference.

    Too bad robots can’t search, analyze and build….

    People need to learn that the exploration of space is not a human job. Until they do, we’re going to waste a lot of time and money.

  8. tacitus says:

    Fancy missing the word “Mars” out of my comment 🙂

  9. Javier says:

    The link to the newspaper Publico in ” Javier Yanes who writes for the newspaper Publico” is wrong. It should address to http://www.publico.es/ . Now it addresses to a Portuguese newspaper.

  10. tacitus says:

    Taft, a human being can do more in a day than robots can do in a year on Mars — and will be able to do so for some time to come. For all the wonderful work that the Mars rovers have done, a single person on the spot could probably have done as much within a week or less.

    Sure, it’s ridiculously expensive, but some day space travel will be routine (not any time soon) and we will always be pressing on towards that day.

  11. tacitus says:

    Case in point: it’s going to take a week for Phoenix even to begin to start digging into the Martian soil — they have a ton of remote sensing, calibration, and measurements to make before they can even move the arm. On a manned mission, they may take a day or so to do post-landing checks, but then all they would need to do is hope out of the spaceship with a drill and start drilling. The Phoenix mission will take 90 days to characterize a few centimeters of martian soil. A human crew could probably do the same thing in a couple of days at most.

  12. The link to Publico has been fixed. Thanks for noting the mistake!

  13. ed says:

    they are soldiers. They risk their lives but they dont think their missions, someone has to do it for them. Here you see why, they are so brave they will do everything for honor and that’s admirable. But they should send better robots able to build structures rather than sending humans and spend lifes for no benefit at all.

  14. Jacco says:

    I am the only one who thinks that this is totally disgusting?? I have been a spaceflight and astronomy enthousiast ever since I saw Neil walk on the moon. I am thrilled by the recent pictures send back by the Phoenix lander, I can’t wait to see people get back to the moon, I love space, I love spaceflight, it represents our future, our hope, our love of life – and I think it is worth the money and effort. But sending people on a suicide mission is where I draw the line. If that is going to happen, I will feel totally gutted, I can’t bare to watch that. That’s so sick.

  15. tacitus says:

    Jacco’s reaction is why I think NASA will never be able to do this. (Not saying you’re right or wrong, Jacco.)

    The nearest they will get to doing this will be a very high risk mission. Indeed the first mission to Mars will be very high risk anyway, but they will have to provide at least a chance that the crew will be able to return home.

  16. tacitus says:

    What about a one-way mission that provides the crew with all the resources to live indefinitely on the surface of Mars with the possibility of returning home after a few years, once the return leg of the mission has been thoroughly tried and tested?

    Would that be enough to satisfy the naysayers?

  17. Sci-Fi Si says:

    I’m up for it. Give me a bio-sphere and a possibly better than 5% chance of surviving. The benefit to the people on Earth would be worth the risk.

    They would need scientists and communications people on a mission like this, not just soldiers.

  18. tacitus says:

    A one-way mission designed to last indefinitely (barring accidents, of course) would provide a great impetus for the continued development of the manned space program since there would be the definitive goal of one day bringing the original mission members home safely one day.

    Sort of like teaching someone to swim by throwing them in the water first. 🙂

  19. Maxwell says:

    If I was NASA I’d say “Sargent we thank you for your service, love your spirit, but hold that thought!”, and then go back to hammering out the return phase plans.

    I think the proposal was just a provocative thought experiment. We can go to mars with what we know now, but obviously thats no good if we cant get men and equipment back.

    The latter part gets easier once you’ve convinced everyone that getting to Mars is simple.

  20. Gary says:

    It often takes someone who others think is crazy to move man into the newest frontiers of science. Ruth represents the mindset that has achieved much in our history. But frankly I don’t see NASA doing it, they have the public to pander to. Such a gutsy mission will be a private endeavor or not at all.

  21. tacitus says:

    I think there’s a good chance the Chinese would risk it, once they have the technology to get a human crew there.

  22. theslat says:

    I am in the military and I would do this in a heartbeat if it were not a suicide mission. The people that have mentioned making it high risk. setting up the mission for sustainable living on mars or a chance at return in the future is worth the risk. And In response to sci-fi si I think there are many soldiers that can do the job. In my time in marine recon I have worked for Sgts with biochemistry degrees, communications guys who build there own HF radios and shoot transmissions around the world for fun on weekends. and that just the enlisted side. every country has some kind of special unit that has medical, engineering, communications, etc. many people in these types of units hold degrees and just do the job because they don’t want to work in an office. seems like thats the kind of people you would want doing this.

    and just a not I love the idea of the international crew. we really do need to all start working together.

  23. priest says:

    I was trained as a soldier and I am now a marine scientist. Soldiers are some of the most intelligent and capable human being on this planet able to see things from multiple perspectives and their ideals of self sacrifice are among the best of human qualities. I believe Ruth’s comment is not only admirable but probably the best chance we have for success on another planet. Soldiers are willing to die and sacrifice for each other and this will be an integral part of any mission to a hostile place. I’m just not sure that purely trained scientists have what it takes. Let the soldiers and marines of the world lead the way…its what they do.
    HOO-AH!

  24. Farcall says:

    Space exploration is a *human* adventure…robots will be a great help, but can never stand in for humans. Above all, look at the astronauts whom have gone into space – many have had their lives changed forever. Why? Because it is as much a *spiritual* adventure as a scientific one. It is as much about hopes, dreams and ideals as it is hard facts.

    Send your soliders and your scientist – that’s all to the good. But what we really need to send is a *Poet*.

  25. Taft says:

    At Tacitus:

    I should’ve made it more clear, but my first post wasn’t directed at any comment. It was just in reaction to how ridiculous this article is.

    As for the time saved if humans were on Mars instead: I’d rather spend 90 days waiting for a robot to complete its mission rather than okaying the spending of billions upon billions of dollars to get a human to do it in a few days.

    You have to think: What will the extra money spent get me? What will I have to forgo by spending it/not spending it?

    Robotics are advancing every day. What this allows us to do is explore like never before. We can fly faster and further with robots. We can see more sooner. We can explore with only monetary risks. We can save money and spend it on causes that need it. We don’t NEED to go to Mars. We NEED to solve our earth bound problems first.

    Manned missions to Mars and the moon are, at this point in time, merely a way to please the public with sensational headlines.

    Basically… If a robot can do it just as well, why use a human?

  26. robbb says:

    I do believe that a great deal of future space exploration will be by computers but this idea fascinates me. Literally colonizing Mars would have a profound, though uncertain, effect on mankind, especially if it was an international team. His determination and drive are persuasive and inspiring.

    Within a few generations humans on Mars would probably differ greatly physiologically from Earthers. Psychologically too I’m sure.

  27. Maxwell says:

    |Basically… If a robot can do it just as well, why use a human?

    Because it cant.
    Imagine trying to explore someplace nearby and far more hospitable (like Antarctica) exclusively through the eyes of a robot.
    Even an advanced machine simply wont be able to do the job to the same detail that humans have.

    Humans also learn fastest by doing.
    By developing spacecraft and life support systems for explorers, we will advance technologies that could make these trips feasible for colonists in the future.

  28. tacitus says:

    Taft, I don’t disagree with most of your points. Robotic missions will always continue to be the pioneers in space since it is much cheaper and safer to send them rather than a live human crew.

    However, it is simply not true that robots can do everything as well as human beings. If we successfully sent a manned mission to Mars, one three month long mission could achieve everything we’re planning for robotic missions to do in the next ten-to-twenty years. That’s with hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on robotics for these missions.

    There are plenty of valid reasons for not wanting to bear the cost of sending a manned mission to Mars, but saying that robotic missions can do the task just as well as manned missions is simply not a valid argument.

    Steve Squyres is immensely proud of his pair of rovers, but he would likely trade them and a hundred like them for one manned mission to the Red planet in a heartbeat.

  29. law mc says:

    one way mission with a 3-4 man crew is the way to go imo.

    Also, one way =/ suicide mission. They will keep living, just no longer on earth.

  30. Brad says:

    For whatever reasons- duty, honor, fear or simply because they were ordered to, soldiers have been putting their lives on the line for what we hold dear for centuries. I for one am not surprised that people who are used to risking their lives would find it easy to accept a fatal task and in return have their names live forever. Such an act may potentially galvanize popular thinking. It should not be discounted. I agree that there are many (not just soldiers) who would undertake such a journey and would gladly step up myself, but I know for a fact that physically I would be unsuitable. So, soldier or astronaut? And yes, while one way != suicide, it’s certainly going to be tough to survive out there.

  31. Alex says:

    well said law mc

    i can’t even say how great of an article this is

    i don’t know what to make of this , first off i discount the fact that this would never happen , because it will , someone will , i have no doubt about the quality of the people that will be the firsts , the best of the best
    all trained , tested and ready to go ,

    this isn’t one of those things where finding the people will be the problem , it really comes down to the technology , as i understand the Orion spacecrafts are still about a decade from being put into service , but they’re to go the moon
    how long before mars? the crafts their sending to mars now are not suited for people , i’d imagine it’d take a redesign of the “next level” Orions which would require some form of tests to assess what a human would be put through , this is where it would be impossible to figure out without a first hand experience , so would we be sending someone as a lab monkey just to know what to rethink and redo accordingly for the “real mission” – that to me would be the real question

    it took the Phoenix Lander 10 months to get to Mars
    it’s going to take no less than 25 years before a human steps foot on Mars

    in the meantime anyone one know of something good on t.v

    while i aspire to do great things , i cannot do nothing but wait for the opportunity

  32. Alex Black says:

    The soul and spirit of Humankind stagnates when we are no longer willing to risk death for the sake of exploration.
    Godspeed to those willing to sacrifice for the future of others.

  33. Cap says:

    “Would there even be an America or NASA if a man named Columbus had not pursued a dangerous and possibly deadly voyage to a new world?”
    Except he wasn’t, he was looking for a shorter and thus more profitable route to the (old world) as for robots. They are the future, even here in earth they will reduce the extremely fragile human into a pile of organic matter, which they will serve.

  34. Anton says:

    Certainly an admirable offer from Ruth & Co, but unless the group is limited to 2 or at most 3 people it is bound to fail. Man does not have or worse, has lost the ability, to co-operate and co-exist in peace. After the initial euphoria, it will not be long before bickering and power plays and self-centredness take over, ruining the initial objectives of the mission. Pity though, it is an interesting concept….

  35. Rachel says:

    I don’t know how to respond so I will make a joke.
    I think taft is a cylon.

    Any mission to Mars or the Moon or anywhere else should be unified experience.
    All one!!! (and yes I like Dr. Bronners & science!!)

  36. Mike says:

    What a spectacle – we can all sit comfortably at home and watch the last moments of these soldiers calling for their mothers as they realise they don’t actually want to die on a cold, barren rock, millions of miles from home. Is this how we want to start the brave new world of space exploration?

    I am as impatient as anyone to see human space exploration, but let’s get the technology right first and that needs time. We are so used to having what we want NOW, that we are losing sight of the fact that there may be a time ahead – perhaps centuries, perhaps just a few decades -when space travel may become an imperative because of the state of our own world.

  37. John Wainwright says:

    If C. Columbus had been a robot, what would it have reported it had found? The western route to India I expect.
    Until a human stood at the South Pole, the job was not done.
    Until a human stood at the top of Everest, the job was not done.
    Robots landed on the moon before humans did.
    My Nan (born in 1888) sat with me and watched humans on the moon. ‘When I was born,’ she said, ‘no-one had flown’.
    I bet you can name the people who were first at the pole, the summit and on the moon. Who was first to fly? We remember their names because they showed us how to complete the mission. Others followed.
    It is not a matter of which is more capable, versatile, or quicker; robots or humans.
    Until a human stands on Mars, the job is not done.

    Now if we could have another decade of exploration like the 60s before I die, then I would have something to tell my Nan if we meet again!

  38. tacitus says:

    Urg. Still no comment showing up

    Trying again….

    I just put up a couple of related polls (about a one way mission to Mars) on my own blog. Feel free to click on my name above (assuming it has the link to my site) and have a look…

    (englishmike.com)

  39. Michael says:

    To the naysayers – shut up; it’s people like you who become shortsighted, whiny politicians; without the b*lls to make a decision.

    To the soldiers who have volunteered for this mission – if it ever happens, I wish you all the best of luck. A decision like this takes guts (and b*lls). Right now, if I was an American, I’d be standing tall, facing the Stars-and-Stripes, hand over my heart, proudly singing The Star Spangled Banner.

  40. Nate says:

    Chances are it’s going to be a one way mission anyway, so kudos to the bravery of anyone willing go.

  41. Poster says:

    urgh – humans should not leave this planet. think of all the damage they will cause …

  42. Lord Rixk says:

    Yeap, count me in, I would also go, though i am of very little value to the mission, since I have neither a military or scientific trainning, but if there was the need to test the efects on the human body on such enviroment… I would gladly donate the last days of my life for a worthy cause, whats life without a few sacrifices?

  43. Michael says:

    No, Poster; it’s just YOU who shouldn’t go. With an attitude like yours, you’re bound to screw up the mission, and whatever planet it gets sent to.

  44. gss says:

    Soldiers are actually the least intelligent humans on the planet. They are meatheads.

  45. gss says:

    We’ve never even been to the Moon. If we do go to Mars, it’ll be another hoax.

  46. Michael says:

    gss: on what grounds do you base your comment?

  47. A.T. says:

    While I do applaud his willing to put him and his men’s lives at risk so that we may further our knowledge, I think there are a few issues that pop up.
    Primarily, while I have no doubts they have a different mentality to non-military people, it’s not really the same as being thousands of miles from home.
    Thousands of miles from home (ie, in another country), it’s not impossible to return home. Mars however, is a little bit more than “thousands” of miles, and as such returning home would be impossible. That instantly changes everything in terms of mentality – we don’t know what would happen to the human psyche should one find oneself on a completely different planet millions of miles the only planet they have ever known.
    As well as that, not that I’m trying to detract from anything these men and women are doing at all, one does have to consider that these men and women are trained primarily to kill and to fight. While I’m sure we’re not alone in the universe, odds are pretty high that the only thing form of life they could fight on Mars is in bacterial form.
    Obviously massive training would be required, and I’m sure it’d make that last observation obselete, and on the flip side, every other aspect of a soldier’s training would no doubt be extremely helpful.
    My final point is that we should not enter space fully as separate nations, but as one world. Not that I’m for a one-world-government, but as soon as you step into space (even before then), everything gets a whole lot bigger in scale and the differences between nations on one planet really, really don’t matter.

  48. Michael says:

    whatisthis, I agree. Also, I think it’ll probably be steered by the free-thinking citizens of Earth, and not politicians; since they’re too busy fighting for control of…well, not much at all. We’ll bring ourselves together under one common goal; not our “leaders”. And if brave men and women are willing to step forward as pioneers, they’ve got my backing.

  49. rbtroj says:

    I admire the members of any military who would be willing to embark on a mission like this (as I admire anyone NOT in the military willing to do this).

    However, I think we’d find the controlling governments of those soldier-astronauts would be more interested in establishing control of the planet, rather than pursuing true exploration and advancement.

    Just take a look at the CIA factbook on Antartica and note how many countries have laid claim to the continent.

    Sorry, but apparently we’ll never be any good at sharing our toys so long as governments are involved, it seems.

  50. Hawkus says:

    A truly inspiring article and a timely reminder that we’ve all forgotten the basic heroism inherent in those in the armed forces.

    “Per aspera ad astra” and a hearty “HOO-AH!”

  51. Kevin L says:

    I was a Marine, and while I think Ruth has some valid points about the value of a trained military person, I think there are plenty of non-military types with the same sort of training, psychological faculties, and philosophical perspectives.

    We do not need, nor should we be desiring, to send the military on exploratory missions. Our exploratory missions have always been best led by scientists and those who can best appreciate and contribute to scientific efforts.

    If Ruth is interested in the image a Mars mission would send the world, why not just send a bunch of poets or musicians? Why not send some government diplomats? But people like myself who are trained in armed conflict?

    I think there are better messengers, and people better fitted for the academic rigor of such a mission.

  52. Anthony says:

    Don’t forget there were scores of military and other people lined up to do the exact same thing before we got to the moon. This is not a new idea.

    If there were people willing to do this for the moon, a relatively boring object compared to Mars, I say let them at it!

  53. gudenboink says:

    Jacco and company is confusing the point of what the man is trying to say.
    Forget the fact that he is a soldier. Point is : He is a trained survivalist.
    He is willing to make the sacrifice to jumpstart our human race out of our milennia long war whore existence. Exploration of space as a single race of humans. His point being that if everybody volunteers to go on the one way mission, they will explore as one race and forget the trivial crap we war over daily. The only shot at survival they have when they get there is to explore as one race, which we are.

    Sending supplies and robotic built structures initially only. We are going to have to get off our butts and colonize space eventually anyway and you can’t do that robotically. This soldier just wants to speed up the process of getting done what he sees as necessary.

    We owe our men and women soldiers the ultimate respect for what they believe in and deal with every day.

  54. NoWayHozay says:

    Know suicide mission,
    No way back,
    Soldiers from all over the world.

    That scenario should keep tensions low. I’d lay a bet they never got off Earth. Too busy arguing about who’s in charge, who cooks and who has to wash the socks.

  55. Andy says:

    Sending citizens to their certain deaths would say much more about the countries than it would about the astronauts (even if they were willing to go). Maybe the people would get their names on a high school or their pictures on a cereal box but where do you think those countries would find their names? So far, I haven’t seen anything on Mars worth sacrificing a human life for. Besides, I thought the whole point of going to other worlds was to return interesting samples back to Earth for analysis.

  56. Craig says:

    Wow … Someone needs spell check. It’s Sergeant not Sargeant.

  57. Ignarukih says:

    Sending multiple ships would be the way to go. Meeting ‘new’ people on Mars would be a huge incentive for the astronauts to stay sane and keep on going after spending literally year(s) cooped up with the same few. Well, aside from the other incentives like setting foot on Mars for the first time!

  58. Geoff says:

    Humans should not be flown into space. It’s a colossal waste of money.

    Invest in better robotics with advanced telepresence technology instead. Then we can ALL go to Mars, instead of just a handful of suicidal soldiers. And we can use that same technology to make telecommuting cool and attractive, getting cars off the roads and OPEC off our backs.

  59. Mick says:

    What’s all this mamby-pamby joint venture stuff? America needs to remain strong and out front. I would go in a heart beat just for the chance of planting our flag and declaring it ours!

  60. Dennis from Canada says:

    Yes.

    I agree for my taxes to pay for this.

    Better to spend money to risk reward than to use money to guarantee destruction.

    Thank you dear solder for recognizing that devastation, plunder and murder is not your only worth.

  61. Charles says:

    I like the idea of a small multinational one way mission. But first we should send a large amount of supplies to Mars, enough for astronauts to build a self-sustaining colony when they arrive.

  62. Sean says:

    I second that Hawkus…

  63. Snuffy Baxter says:

    The idea of sending “battle-hardened” military, individuals who have been trained to fight and to kill, is irrational. Colonization has been posited in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy, with mixed results. In the first book, scientists are sent to begin exploring/developing the world for human habitation. This idea is more plausible. Rather than having minds trained to make sure ‘evil will not prevail, not on my watch’, as Ruth so eloquently states, on a distant planet where the concept of “evil” does not exist, let us enter into true exploration with scientific minds rather than minds set upon war. We must explore space to insure future generations’ survival, however, sending soldiers is not only a bad idea, it will prove fatal to our race.

  64. pat says:

    I’m not a soldier. I would volunteer for this today if I could. Even if it is a suicide mission.

  65. Brendon says:

    First, no one has the right to tell these soldiers what they should or should not do with their lives. Its their choice. While people like to be heard, not everyone’s opinion matters.

    Second, it is simply our nature to explore and colonize. This is a natural step in our evolution. Stop fighting it, and perhaps use your energy to think of creative ways to help advance our race, the way soldier Ruth and engineer Jim McLane have.

    Once everyone gets on board and starts paddling in the same direction, we might just get somewhere.

    B-

  66. Balzac says:

    Sounds like a great way to start a fascist society on mars – begin with human sacrifice!
    .
    I’d say do it in such a way that every participant expects to survive, or at least has a high degree of optimism about their chances of survival.

    I don’t want voluntary human-sacrifice to be the basis of our space colonization program.

    I’d say keep sending robots to prepare and get a therapist for this marine, so he can reprogram himself not to seek glorified remembrance through death.

  67. Sweeney Todd says:

    DOOM IRL

  68. Curtis says:

    My only question is WHY? Why do we need to go try to colonize another planet where we will have to figure out how to make oxygenized living environments among other things, when we can’t even develop a way to live our our own planet without screwing it up. I’m far from an eco nut, but while it’s very admirable that people are willing to do this, I would rather they take the tax payers money and instead of spending it on getting to another planet, use it so I don’t have to spend the other half of my paycheck on gas which kills our own planet.

  69. tacitus says:

    Why? Because if our destiny isn’t to leave this world and move into space, other planets, and other solar systems, then our species will wither and die. It is precisely because we risk ruining our planet that we should be seeking out other places to colonize. There is nothing more risky to the human race than having all our eggs in one basket.

    Yes, we should be sorting out our environmental problems here at home, but a funding a manned mission to Mars is peanuts compared with the cost of tackling global warming (or even just getting ourselves off our dependency on oil). In the long run no-one will even notice the few billion needed to get us to Mars.

    (P.S. Click my name above and take the polls about a one-way mission to Mars — what would you agree to?) I can’t add a direct link to the polls because my comment will be put in the spam bucket! (Note to UT admins — please allow one link at least in a comment!!)

  70. tacitus says:

    By the way, concerns over damaging the Martian environment are way over blown. While it’s true that there is a slight risk we could harm whatever microscopic life exists on Mars locally, it will be centuries before we have much impact on the planet as a whole (short of deliberate attempts at terraforming).

    Mars is massive enough that a few manned missions or even a few small colonies would have no real environmental impact on the planet.

  71. Mr. S says:

    This is not by any means a suicide mission. They could live there for ages. Being the biggest problem for them the gravity aspects and the way it causes damage to their body.

    If they successfully landed on mars, NASA and ESA and all other could easily and relatively cheap send food and oxygen for them on a regular basis.

    I’d like to see this happen. Human are doomed for sure if they don’t move out of planet Earth.

  72. sarah says:

    I seriously believe we should at least wait until we HAVE some kind of machine to bring people back.

    I mean…you’ll DIE. Suicide missions …ugh.

  73. R.D says:

    Not to be cliche, but I’m going to say it anyway:

    A one way mission is NOT the American way. It’s not the way that we conquered the first-leg of humanity’s journey into space,, and it isn’t the way we’ll being on the second.

    We need to get to Mars first. We need to do it better than any other country on this planet. We need to do great things on the surface – pave the way. And we need to then bring our men and women home.

    And you know what? I’ll go out on a limb and say we’re going to do it. Before the Russians. Before the Chinese. And before the EU. I still believe.

  74. GI Joe says:

    I thought Afghanistan was Farsi for “Mars.” I didn’t realize Afghanistan was on our own planet.

    Amazing… you learn something new every day.

  75. Oname says:

    I think one fact needs to be pointed out to some of the naysayers: The 2008 annual budget for NASA is 17.13 billion. The United States annual budget is about 2.3 trillion. That’s about 0.745%. That’s a drop in the bucket. Before you complain about all the billions we’re “wasting” on space exploration, maybe you should see what the facts are. We allocated about 30 billion into the Natural Resources and Environment category of the national budget. Quite clearly we are working on the problems at home–in fact we’re investing more money into that (almost twice as much) as we are in space exploration.
    There are nearly seven billion people on this planet–I think we can handle doing more than one thing at a time.

  76. Paul Curtis says:

    To be honest, and exciting though it is, I think there would definitely never be a suicide mission.

    Say there is enough budget and political agreement to send people there on a one-way trip. Imagine if something goes wrong, and presuming there`s enough time, there`ll be a huge amount of public pressure (ie money available) to rescue them.

    This would be directly true of places like the US and EU, but imagine if a more autocratic country like China decided the funds weren`t available. The US would immediately step in say they will save them China would have to do the same.

    There will be no suicide Mars missions. At least, not planned

  77. Chuck Lam says:

    Putting a science team on Mars for an extended stay! Not in this century! Possibly never!

  78. Maxwell says:

    >I mean…you’ll DIE.

    Getting stranded is a possibility even with a normal return phase in place. This was a reality in Apollo, its a reality on the space station, and it will continue to be one for constellation and future mars missions.

    I think if We look at this like a long term project with a continuous stream of equipment and supply launches following those first few astronauts, its less of a suicide mission and more like the first phase of an ambitious colonization plan.

    If we colonized mars today there would quickly come a time when it would be physically impossible (with current spacecraft) to return them all.
    Its dangerous to start our first day on a new planet with that problem… but I think it will make little difference in the end.

  79. KnowYourHistory says:

    Many opponents of a manned Mars mission are overlooking a very obvious point: going to Mars is not about going to Mars. Going to Mars is about progressing technology to a certain point, and using the research and engineering of such a project to make applicable technologies here on earth. Setting up base on a desolate, dangerous planet and having people actually LIVE there with next to no resources will push the boundaries of self-sustainability technology, making it cheaper and distributable, in-turn increasing living conditions on our own planet.
    And the billions upon billions of dollars? Again, I wont reiterate the countless voices here that agree that even at a cost of several billion dollars, that is only a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of, say, war… or the lining of corrupt political pockets. Why not let the private industry take care of it? They are! They have been! The private sector has always held contracts with NASA to develop space technology. North American Aviation built the Apollo Command and Service Modules, Grumman built the Lunar Lander, and now SpaceX is under contract to develop the launch vehicles of the upcoming Orion missions. NASA organizes, provides launch facilities, and oversees the missions, but it is the engineers of the private sector that have always been the backbone of American spaceflight.
    Sure, the original goals of space exploration were pompous and political, but we have learned so much because of it, and I believe that after Apollo 17, space had been handed over to the world of science, where it should have been from the start.

    Robots would not have been good enough for Columbus.

  80. Dan Kez says:

    I am not a soldier or any person that has faced war, but I would go on this trip, if given the chance. Personally, would like something out of the ordinary to happen in my life, if this may be my calling then I am all for it.

    But over all, I think that this would be the first step into a new dawn for man. For the first time in all history, humans of every nationality and race can assemble, peacefully, and work towards a common goal.

    If given the chance to go on a trip such as this, I would accept wholeheartedly. While I may lose my chance to take part in different activities, or the safe life of society, an opportunity such as this would set my life on new tracks, and aim for a new future.

  81. Chuck Lam says:

    Hey all you dreamers; if Einstein is correct about the speed of light and I believe he is, man isn’t going anywhere beyond the outer reaches of our Sun. Keep in mind (a key clue) that anything we design will reflect our arrogance, our misconceptions of what will work and our way too often faulty positive thinking, etc., etc.. Look at the current communication problem with Pheonix. Someone needs their ass kicked. In addition to our collective screwed-up thinking, man is simply too fragile a life form for even a single generation trip anywhere, yet alone a multi-generation trip to Alpha C. not to mention there may not be a damn thing of interest there. And for any scientific group to think we will venture to or beyond Alpha C and colonize some unknown planet is totally ludicrous. My gawd people, we are not infallible. The only way for any intelligent life-form to travel through deep space is to travel several orders faster than the speed of light. Maybe there is some heretofore undiscovered phenomenon that will allow speed beyond 186,000 mps. This one-way mission proposal may be attempted one day this century and we might get lucky and actually put a man or two on Mars or even Pluto. But highly doubtful any further. The problem besides our very dangerous “can do anthing” attitude is over coming the painfully slow speed of light.

  82. Steven says:

    Let’s face it, others(meaning human beings) have gone out of their way to explore, up, down and all around. Perhaps the rulers of this world, are a well established utopia living in a spirit world at the bottom of our oceans which we are killing anyway, or living in an invisible sphere(unknown to us) high in the sky, which we are killing anyway, or anywhere on Earth, which we are killing anyway, and if that’s not enough, there’s the humans of this world, which we are killing anyway.
    So what would a microbe on Mars think of it all, or anywhere in the Universe come to that.
    Here comes those idiots, the killing machines from Earth(we have all seen the films) and so have the Aliens. Lucky the Aliens are not into spring cleaning because we in this world and I suppose our Galaxy would by interstellar standards be the first to get dusted good style. All the Star movers in the universe would by accident drop one next to OUR SUN, and bobs your uncle. Of course we could send in the Marines to fix that little problem. If you can think of it, it could happen, now who said that, I wonder.

  83. Steven says:

    So the point is. Let us(Human Beings) sort this world out. Perhaps then we could sort other worlds out, because by then we would have experience at it, and by then we would not have the need to have any Marines, army’s, navy’s, we would be in a perfect world. Where we(human beings)everyone would work to a common goal, getting of a dead planet before we become extinct, like everything else we touch, kill, or forget to feed.

  84. Chuck Lam says:

    To: KnowYourHistory, I’m basically in agreement with all you have said with one or two exceptions. I am aware as you are that progress is not possible in anything without the efforts of the dreamers and disciplines you describe. However, it is the infallibility of man and speed of light limitation that my coments are based on that will keep us close to planet earth. As I repeatedly said, “if Einstein is correct concerning the speed of light”, we aren’t going anywhere regardless of scientific possibilities. All of our scientific accomplishments to date are childs play compared to a trip to Alpha C.

  85. KnowYourHistory says:

    @Chuck

    You have to change you’re view of space/time when thinking of interstellar travel. Vehicles as we know them, made of particles, traveling through space within time, won’t do it, obviously. I mean, literally, they can, but logistically, it doesn;t make any sense.

    However, who says we will be taking vehicles to other stars? Sure, the idea of wormholes and “teleportation” are far-fetched ideas with today’s technology, but imagine how ridiculous space travel seemed less than 100 years ago. You have absolutely NO idea what kind of technology will be developed in the next 100 years, you have absolutely NO idea what scientific discoveries will be made, and you have NO clue as to how they will be applied. Go back in time to 1908, and the ideas of jet airplanes, rockets, space stations, moon landings, interplanetary space probes, solar power, wind power, and particle accelerators were alien ideas saved for science fiction. Now, they are commonly accepted forms of OLD technology. Amazing that you think we’ll never reach beyond the solar system.

    Humans aren’t infallible, of course, but that has nothing to do with anything. Every mission to space has had problems, and they were worked through, and fixed. Advancements in particle, nuclear, and theoretical physics have opened up a realm of possibilities for humans to do what no other known beings have ever been able to do.

    The only way to advance technology to any level is to reach for the unattainable, building machines with no “practical” purpose (like the LHC). The knowledge left in the wake of such crazy, impractical research is what we apply to our “practical” world.

    Putting a man or two on Mars isn’t going to be “luck”… it’s going to be a matter of when, and how to do it right the first time… just like we did for the moon. This isn’t a mission to put Old Glory in red sand, it is an essential next step in the evolution of human technology.

  86. zifferman says:

    Why don’t we send our criminals, deviants, psychos, reprobates, and republicans to Mars on this one-way trip?

    It will alleviate some of our problems and look how well Australia turned out after being first populated by scum.

  87. R.D says:

    That is awesome above poster. I love how you’ve politicized space exploration! A+ for that! Republicans! What a riot! If only he had mentioned Obama and Ron Paul in the same post! That would have been legendary!
    (sarcasm off)

    You, sir, are what is wrong with the current American political scene.

  88. Mike Hawkins says:

    I’d go no problem, be nice if they landed a supply ship first so I could survive long enough to conduct some real science to benefit future missions. About 38,000 Americans on average die every year in car accidents but they’re questioning sending a man on a one way ticket to Mars?? For the 1 trillion cost of the Iraq war we could have put a colony on Mars. Our priorities are messed up on this planet.

  89. Sagarika says:

    This is the bad idea. I think the US should train and send “person waiting to be executed” on one-way-mission to Mars. In this option, the US will have a wide choice and select the companion as well.

  90. Pradeep Nair says:

    Mars human mission should be a collective one represented by mankind. regardless of race, cast,creed,color, country or community. We all are humans. Whoever lands on mars should be represented as the first human beings who have set on Mars and not as a country! It will be the best example of Unity in Diversity and a strong message of love and peace for Mankind for future generations.

  91. Joe says:

    They state repeatedly that people would be willing to make the “sacrifice” to do this mission.

    If it’s such a hardship for them, Let someone who would WANT to go, without hesitation go.

    Give me a one and a thousand chance of it working. Give me equipment, spares, and supplies to start out on, and I’d go tomorrow. No questions asked, no regrets.

    Anyone who views being one of the first to live out the rest of their life on another planet, to take those risks, to see those sunrises, to build with their own two hands and wits something that NO human has ever done before, as a “sacrifice” doesn’t deserve the ticket, to me.

  92. Peth says:

    The idea makes sense, but I think the ideals,symbolism and hope that some people are throwing into it don’t really belong. I don’t think this idea (or the execution of it) would do much to unite anyone.

    Cool idea, though. I hope it happens.

  93. space bastard says:

    people die everyday, many in an attempt to accomplish something. No one has ever died in an attempt to accomplish something so monumental. If you are opposed to the idea… I suggest you stay home. For those who have the courage and foresight to volunteer for such a mission, I salute you.

    let’s do this soon before the Chinese beat us to it. Space Race round 2.

  94. Steve Schaper says:

    It isn’t a true one-way suicide mission. It is a mission where the initial crew don’t have the return capability lugged with them. Instead they have loads of supplies and building equipment. Mars has the volatiles we need for water and breathing, and we know how to get it. We -can- “live off the land” inside of habs and suits, of course.

    The idea is to send the mission, then prepare the follow-on mission, which will be less likely to get gutted by the Dems the way Apollos 19 and 20, and Skylab 2 were, and how Freedom became Fred, because we would have people to go and get and bring back.

    Meanwhile the crew could do a tremendous amount of in-depth exploration.

    There are places on Mars with enough local magnetic field to protect against radiation, and enough water ice in the ground to keep them going for a long time if the greenhouse works.

    It is likely only when there is competition that we will bother to do it. An international mission destroys that, increases complexity and corruption. It just isn’t the way to go. What -would- be helpful is to have some kind of code where each crew would help the other if in need, in spite of nationality.

  95. Moron says:

    Will you bring your own booze and hookers, or should they be sent separately?

  96. Joe M. says:

    Look at all of the other things that man has accomplished after it was written in a book or was in a movie or video game. Going to Mars was in Doom, just as the LHC was in Angels and Demons. We wi one day go to Mars and be able to get back and forth.

  97. !hunseUnumma! says:

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    Make your choice of ?
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  98. A Soldier at War says:

    OK man you are so hard due to the war, why don’t you try something like train your soldiers to be just as hard as you. There are soldiers dying every day just to give you the freedom to write a paper such as this. I can understand that you want to be famous and the first person on Mars but, why would you put your suicidal thoughts on the internet for all to see. You need to see a therapist before you write anything else. I to am a soldier that has deployed been hurt in combat, but I have to say that I would rather spend time with my family or other Americans before I pay the ultimate price.
    There are mothers, fathers, wives, sons and daughters that will never see their loved ones again because they were doing what they love and that is protecting this place we call the United States of America. There is a phrase All Gave Some but Some Gave All. Nowhere in there does it say I want to go to mars and die.
    To all the readers I feel that you must know that all soldiers are not suicidal. There may be 1 or 2 but look in the city you live in how many people try to kill themselves on a daily basis? Then look at the Army, not that many. We have a lot of stressors and hurdles that we must work our way around every day but, wow we are not crazy like this guy.
    Thank you for your time.

  99. David says:

    I have a family and i would take that one way trip i fear 5-6 generation from now earth will have depleted all our resource, look at the talk about polar ice caps melting why not help the future prepare to keep mankind from possible extension your blood line from living on… if this man feels like he can help nasa make a change for us as a whole then so be it, its his life not yours i feel as though your a true donkey thier is always someone who thinks negative first rather seeing the possibilties of the positive first… if everyone thought like the previous guy comment we would still be ride in horse driven buggies and thinking that the world is flat… lol

    I say go plant some tree’s grow some veggies and who’s to say after 12 years that he can’t come back we just might have an entire enginering crew up thier that may develop some sort of fossil fuel now here comes the possiblities of space bus rides between earth and mars.

  100. David says:

    one more thing to anyone from nasa who reads this if this become the future of mars make the new civilization to depend on solar energy something that can’t be depleted and used that fuel just for bus ride back and forth between earth and mars at least until something is more useful or suficent for space travel…

  101. JANINE says:

    thanks doldiers for saving energy god bless and keep on doing what your doing!!!!!!!!!!!love evryone

  102. JANINE says:

    soz for that wrong spellings lol

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