Natalie Lawler is hoping for a one way ticket to Mars. And she’s not alone. Some 200,000 people worldwide applied for the program to live on Mars. That number has been narrowed down to 705 individuals. During the next two years contenders will be brought down to a final of 24, (six teams of four), featuring two of each gender. Four people will then be sent to Mars to live. The cost of the program is the equivalent of six billion U.S. dollars leading up to the first mission and four billion for every additional human mission. The first trip is scheduled for 2024 and the plan is to send four additional people every two years. So in twenty years there will be a whopping 44 people living in caves on the red planet, assuming people survive that long and the missions continue.
Oh, I forgot to mention….there is no return trip ticket included with this program. When you leave, you’re gone. I should also mention…..the trip to Mars takes seven months.
Natalie is a teacher who lives in Australia. She has a partner, Michael, and two daughters, her oldest being fourteen. She claims her daughters are excited about their mother living on another planet. My guess is they’re not the only teenage girls who have hoped for the same thing.
Apparently, she’s not concerned about never having physical contact with her children again, or being a physical part of their lives, attending their weddings, or holding grandchildren. Because of the time delay and distance between Mars and Earth she won’t be able to have phone conversations with them so they’ll have to settle for videos and emails. According to Natalie, “I’ll just learn to parent from afar.”
Really? So she’s going to do at 35 million miles what most parents have difficulty doing just a few feet away. In eight years her daughters will be late teens/early twenties. Not an easy time for young women as they head out on their own.
As for the ride itself, she thinks the seven months it will take to get there will be “quite horrific,” unlike living the rest of your life in a cave with a few dozen people, on a red dusty landscape of canyons and valleys, with an atmosphere so thin that water cannot exist in liquid form, with no ozone layer so that Mars is bathed in a lethal dose of radiation each time the sun rises, with dust storms topping 125 mph that can last for weeks and with a temperature range of 72 degrees in the summer to -205 degrees F in the winter. Yeah, the ride is what you should be concerned about.
So I’m not really sure, in this picture, if Natalie is telling us she’s thinking about going to Mars or saying that she’s crazy for considering it. The teams who are chosen will be dedicated to an eight year program so I suppose they’ll have time to decide between adventure and lunacy.
Look, I’m all for exploration and finding out what’s out there. I admire those individuals who have flown in space, visited the moon and continue to push the envelope. But pushing the envelope is living in a space station for seven months, not leaving your family forever to live with three other humans 35 million miles away. That’s more than being adventurous or curious. I’ll leave it to you to fill in the descriptive blanks.
Natalie claims to be an avid hiker who feels that a trip to Mars will give her access to one of her true loves, (aside from her children whom she’s leaving behind). She claims to find “total peace in just looking out across barren landscape or forest and not seeing any signs of modern life and not knowing what era you’re in. I go all over the world to try and find that.” Well, if you can’t find total peace on Mars without any signs of modern life, where can you find it, right?
Then again, four people in a small dusty cave might get kind of dicey after a decade or so. But hey…..one can always go for a long walk.
My guess is there’s going to be some kick ass parties at the Lawler house once Mom blasts off. Is there such a thing as video grounding your child?
Good luck with that, Mom.