Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Humans --> Mars

It’s not every morning you wake up and hear some news that thrills you down to the bone level. Dennis Tito did that for me today with his simply phrased announcement that he plans to send two people on a fly-by 500 day mission to Mars.

I don’t know about you, but the 21st Century future I dreamt of growing up in 60s Glasgow hasn’t really paid off. Robot missions to space and other planets are amazing, but it’s not the same as people travelling far away from the safety of Earth on that ultimate adventure. That’s what I — and, I think — a lot of people have really been missing. As I said, the statement was simple, but it had the same effect on me as when I heard possibly the most stirring speech about being out in space that I’ve ever heard, from (of course) Start Trek TOS:

KIRK: They used to say if man could fly, he’d have wings. But he did fly. He discovered he had to. Do you wish that the first Apollo mission hadn’t reached the moon, or that we hadn’t gone on to Mars and then to the nearest star? That’s like saying you wish that you still operated with scalpels and sewed your patients up with catgut like your great-great-great-great-grandfather used to.
I’m in command. I could order this. But I’m not, because Doctor McCoy is right in pointing out the enormous danger potential in any contact with life and intelligence as fantastically advanced as this. But I must point out that the possibilities, the potential for knowledge and advancement is equally great.
Risk. Risk is our business. That’s what the starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.
Star Trek: Return to Tomorrow
Good luck, Mr Tito. And if you need a few bucks, I’ll be happy to pitch in.


Adam Browne said...

enjoyed this post - yes indeed! Dennis Tito is a character out of a Heinlein novel.


Keith Stevenson said...

Yeah, he's a Heinleinesque roll up your sleeves and kick ass kind of guy. Hopefully with out the misogeny and extreme right-wingedness!