Never to return again

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Permanent colony could be established on Mars by 2027

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As we look ahead to a future that involves the colonization of other planets, Mars has become the agreed-upon destination for this endeavor.

NASA has already begun work on Orion, a spacecraft designed for the specific purpose of sending men farther into space then ever before, with Mars looming in the distance as the program’s eventual destination. Orion has already been space tested, with another test flight to occur in the near future.

The earliest launch date for the spacecraft is sometime in 2021, with Mars colonization planned for the 2030’s.

In response to the Orion program, Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp announced the Mars One mission in 2012, a one-way trip with the bold goal of establishing a permanent colony on Mars by 2027. Now partnered with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Space Systems, the Mars One team is in the process of choosing the 100 people from around the world who will take the seven-month trip to the red planet. Once launched, these chosen people will never set foot on Earth again.

Although NASA’s plan is far less ambitious than the Mars One mission, both have the same destination. Although it is exciting to imagine man might establish a colony on another planet in just 12 years, it is also a dangerous prospect.

Once on Mars, the colonists must be successful in maintaining a colony in a hostile and isolated environment.

They are going to another world with no lifeline connecting them to Earth, and no chance of help should something go wrong.

It seems more prudent to put the colonization of Mars on hold until the practice of world colonization can be established practically, rather than on paper.

We should instead focus on building a colony on the moon as a test run for Mars. In that way, we can iron out any unforeseen problems that might occur from otherworldly colonization.

We can refine building materials that will work, perform equipment tests and essentially learn how to colonize a foreign world before blindly setting out to a planet from which we can never return.

We can make several trips back and forth to the moon as needed to refine and improve the colony, or to shuttle colonists back and forth. And if something goes wrong on the moon colony, help is only a few days away, rather than non-existent.

Through this method, humans can become adept at colonizing another world, learn what will work, what will not work and use that knowledge to ensure that the trip to Mars has a far greater chance of success than it has now. In that way, the next great leap for mankind has far less chance of failure.

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