(This was first published in Le News 19 February 2015)
Dear organisers of the Mars One Mission (M.O.M.)
It has recently come to my attention that you are planning to establish a human settlement on Mars, and I would really, really like to volunteer to be a part of it.
You may wonder why I – a very tired 40-something mother of two small children – am so keen to go. I don’t fit the profile of ‘explorer’, it’s true. But adventure is in my genetic make-up. I share the pioneering spirit that led so many of my ancestors to leave England and head to Australia; and then when that didn’t work out, leave Australia and head to South Africa; and then when that didn’t work out, leave South Africa and head back to England and Australia …
Anyway, it’s that: yearning for adventure, love of travel … and I won’t lie to you, M.O.M., it’s also the thought of spending some time alone on an uninhabited planet. Everyone is so obsessed with that saying, ‘In space, no one can hear you scream’. But, as I prefer to think of it, in space, you can’t hear anyone else scream, either. Or meow, or squeak. Or sing the first verse of I Love My Spotty Socks eighteen times in a row, and expect you to applaud with the same level of enthusiasm every single time.
There are some other compelling reasons, too: the Martian year is almost twice as long as an Earth year, which means I will age more slowly; and Mars’ gravity is 38% of Earth’s, which means that I would be approaching my goal weight there.
M.O.M., I want to go. I really do. I’ve already started preparing myself, by watching every movie about Mars and space exploration that I can get my hands on, and they’ve been very helpful. For example, I know better than to volunteer for the first or second waves of the mission: the first wave will inexplicably disappear, and the second wave will go in search of them, only to find that they have a) been eaten by space monsters b) been turned into zombies or c) slipped through a portal into Hell. Only one member of the second wave will survive to tell the story, and they will most likely be infected with Zombie Disease, or incubating an alien baby anyway, so their days are numbered. Subsequent waves seem to be fine, unless Sigourney Weaver is among the crew, in which case I’m getting off the spaceship. That woman is a magnet for trouble.
Speaking of getting off the spaceship: I would like to assure you that your ‘one-way’ policy is no problem. On your website, you state that the spaceships won’t go back to Earth, and that the Mars settlers are pretty much stuck up there. I have no intention of staying forever – it’s just a little break I’m after – but I’m happy to make my own way home. After all, it’s not like outer space is quite the ‘final frontier’ that it used to be, is it? Everyone and their Hello Kitty doll has been up there now; someone jumped down from there a while ago; soon, everywhere you look, there will be people landing on comets and chasing asteroids. I’m pretty sure I can catch a ride back to Earth.
Oh M.O.M., this mission is perfect for me! I read your requirements and I fit them to a T: I’m mature (44 and maturing daily); interesting (I’ve just finished listening to an audiobook about opera, so I’ll have lots to talk about with the other colonists); I like space (I love it, actually. The more the better.)
You also specify on your website that, ‘No particular academic or professional background is considered a prerequisite for selection.’ This is wonderful news, as those are my qualifications exactly!
Goodbye for now, M.O.M., but I hope to see more of you in the future, and I eagerly await your reply to this letter.
Yours, very sincerely