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Opinion: Stop the race to Mars

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Mars One, a Dutch company working to set up a colony on Mars, has recently announced that it has narrowed the pool of candidates from a couple thousand to just one hundred. A short description of their plan was found on its website:

“Mars One will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Crews of four will depart every two years, starting in 2024. Our first unmanned mission will be launched in 2018. “

This is a private commercial venture, not a government funded international effort but just a measly Dutch company that wants to have a couple people grow mangos on Mars for the rest of their lives. It would be exhilarating and just plain awesome to be one of the first humans on Mars, so it is understandable why thousands signed up. The fact that this is a one way ticket to a red dirt grave probably dissuaded many more.

Mars One was also working on a TV deal with Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP), which produced Big Brother, which, according to the Daily Mail, was going to be called Big Brother on Mars.

In the same Daily Mail article, DSP was quoted as, “DSP and Mars One were unable to reach agreement on the details of the contract and DSP is no longer involved in the project.”

Concerning whether the selection process would’ve been a reality show, Bas Lansdorp, CEO and co-founder of Mars One, was quoted by NBC News, “We’ve never planned a ‘reality TV series’. A documentary series has always been our plan.”

At least we have been saved from cat fights in space, but nonetheless there are some more profound issues concerning the very aspect of our desire to colonize Mars or any other planet for that matter. Firstly, the very act of colonization creates a geo-political dilemma not only in language but it policy. Who owns Mars? Who owns the Moon? Does America own the moon because we have a flag there?

Since we live in a global capitalist economy, we need to start asking these questions about ownership and who has the right (laughable I know) to colonize Mars and exploit its natural resources? Is it too much to ask that we at least begin that conversation before Mars One wins an Emmy?

Just some simple questions need to be asked before we sign up to die because of some two minute futurist propaganda that eerily sounds like the plot to an Archer episode. We must begin caring about all the problems we have here on Earth before we start galavanting around the cosmos considering flag placement as legal precedent.

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