One-Way Ticket to Mars
James C. McLean III
If we can eliminate the requirement to launch that person off of Mars to bring them back, we remove a major obstacle to mission practicality. Carrying enough rocket fuel to the surface of Mars to permit a launch back into space for a return to Earth, or else somehow manufacturing fuel on Mars for this launch is a technical problem with no solution likely in the next twenty or thirty years.
There are current plans for a robotic mission to return a one- or two-pound sample of Mars soil for study. But even the simple rocket needed to bring such a tiny amount of dirt back from Mars will be heavy and technically difficult to land on that planet. For a one-way human mission, significant engineering problems remain, but without the need for a Mars launch, we can plan a program within the scope of available or near-term technology.
Life support and resupply would also be greatly simplified if there is only one astronaut, but perhaps the first human mission might consist of two people; maybe even a male/female team. That privileged couple would follow in the tradition of the creation stories of many earthly religions. The pair would become more than just historic, they would become legend.
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