Tech billionaire Elon Musk announced today his plans for the colonization of Mars. Musk's vision was laid out before the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico which asked the question, "Are you prepared to die?"
The technical details of his plan were not all revealed. Yes, he provided a stunning presentation of the rocket that will be used and how fast it will be barreling towards Mars, but a lot of questions remain.
Truthfully, I don't think Musk knows how exactly how we get from a Mars population of zero to a colony of a million and rising. So is Musk's idea the genesis of human life on Mars or are we watching the beginning to the greatest con job in modern history?
I choose to believe that Musk is going to get us there and I am beyond excited. If we don't drown half this country in ocean water by the time this mission to Mars is up and running, then sign me up. Mars is becoming what the new world was to 15th century Europeans and when modern medicine is somehow keeping people of my generation alive, I want to be rocketed off this rock and live in a literal new world.
Space exploration fascinates me. It draws my attention unlike any other subject. The incredible distances between planets, stars and galaxies is so unimaginable and perplexing that it has completely isolated us in our part of the universe. But what if a great mind, or a series of discoveries, came along and shrank that down for us? If a technology that is shown to us today could shrink a nine month journey down into just 80 days? If the successful execution of that led to faster and more efficient travel? If suddenly, the nearest star could be reached in a few decades instead of thousands of years? Wouldn't that be the greatest achievement of all time?
Space travel is incredibly dangerous and has led to some of the most tragic events in history. Challenger and Columbia serve as reminders and will never be forgotten. However, what strikes me, through danger and disaster society has never quit on exploration. It is in our genetic code for our species to keep expanding forward. We would have never left the trees where we had an abundance of food and absence of predators if it had not been so engrained in us.
So when Elon asked "Are you prepared to die?" I don't think he was asking the right question. Obviously, I'm just a struggling author and not on par with his intellect, but aren't we always prepared to die? Every time we step outside we're faced with a probability of some early accidental or malicious demise. So I think the better question would be, "Are you prepared to live?"
Even with all the risk involved and every little thing that could kill me, I want to go. I want to follow what feels natural to me and leave what is safe and comfortable for a galactic unknown.
I write the words I'm too uncomfortable to say.