A friend of mine recently posted this YouTube video on my Facebook page:
Their site (One Way Astronaut) promotes “an independent documentary surrounding people who have signed up to leave Earth to be the first human settlers on the planet Mars.”
While I’m a huge proponent for the manned exploration of Mars, I think that this proposal (details found at the Mars One website) could (emphasis *could*) end up being a double-edged sword.
It would bring excitement and positive attention to a much-needed manned space exploration of another planet and significant scientific returns.
On the other hand, our tabloid media culture would focus on the “not going to return” aspect so much as to almost overshadow and turn parts of this into a media circus or a reality TV show. The last thing NASA would need is to be associated with a vapid “Kardashian“- or “Survivor“-type stigma.And… if there were to be an “Apollo 13”-type event, mechanical or human, and one or more of the “One Way Astronauts” were to die without hope of rescue or return, it *might* actually have a larger negative effect on the public’s perception of manned space exploration than if it had never happened.
…and that’s sad.