Having pretty well established over the past two or three weeks that things on Earth are pretty unsalvageably jerked up, I think I'll go ahead and cut my losses and apply for this one-way flight to Mars thing. I don't know much about Mars, other than they have an Olympus Mons and we shot a rover there one time, but I'm pretty sure that if 90 percent of people support something on Mars, the Martian Congress will figure out a way to get it done.
Last week a Dutch nonprofit company called Mars One, founded by an entrepreneur named Bas Lansdorp, because his parents couldn't think of a more Dutch name to give him apparently, announced it was looking for people to volunteer to become the first humans to live on Mars. They don't need a lot - just four initial colonists to shoot on over, set up a colony and then, of course, never ever come back. It's kind of like an interstellar-travel version of a Carnival cruise.
It's a one-way permanent vacation that probably requires at least a little bit of travel insurance but according to Mars One thousands have already applied because, again, I mean, (makes "I mean really just look around" motion). But there are naturally questions about whether any company can swing the technology and financing, which is estimated to be $6 billion for the first four colonists and $4 billion for each subsequent crew of four, although the 10th crew is free and you get a free colony on your birthday.
Naturally this idea is mystical and wacky, which means it will be of particular interest to my son, who has lately gotten into astronomy through a book about Angry Birds, which is one of those parenting compromises you're sort-of OK with making; he's technically absorbing actual astronomical facts and figures, he's also technically doing so accidentally while reading the occasional wisecracks from video-game birds, including some nefarious character named Chuck and, unless I am mistaken, a handful of bad piggies.
This book has resulted in all manner of discussions in our house, both about Angry Birds (apparently Chuck is very powerful and should be feared and respected) and space, but only the latter take place at bedtime after we've had lights-out. We're all into Space Talks At Bedtime now, up until the part where it sinks in how Large and Vast and Unending space actually is, at which point the little man's brain turns into a soft pat of butter and he gets super-freaked out and wants either me or Mom to sleep in his bed for the next eight hours. I don't even want to tell you what happened when I accidentally asked him what he thought was on the other side of the edge of the universe. GIANT ERROR.
Anyway, Mars One says it'll fund the mission by doing what pretty much everyone does when they need money - ask for it on the Internet. They plan to pay for the launch by "making it the biggest media spectacle in history," although it'll be interesting to see how they pull that off without a Kanye West baby to fall back on. There's no maximum age limit to apply for applicants. Applicants, the site says, should have resiliency, curiosity, resourcefulness, adaptability and an Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator. And part of the process will unfold as a reality who, where applicants will compete against each other "in challenges that demonstrate their suitability to become one of the first humans on Mars.
Page 2 of 2 - "Not unlike the televised events of the Olympic Games, Mars One intends to maintain an ongoing global media event, from astronaut selection to training, from liftoff to landing," reads a post on their website.
I mean, we watched that rocket man with the balloon jump out of a spacepod 7 miles above the Earth and it was AMAZING; I would most definitely tune in into watch people flying to another planet for four years. Or at least I'd have it on while playing Angry Birds.
Jeff Vrabel is a bad piggy. He can be reached at http://jeffvrabel.com or followed at http://twitter.com/jeffvrabel.