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Book me a ticket for the Red Planet

My ambition to be the first man on Mars has lost a little steam over the past few years.

My ambition to be the first man on Mars has lost a little steam over the past few years.

You know the story: Kids, career, and mortgage have taken a toll on a quest that was spawned even before I read Stranger in a Strange Land and grokked it in fullness.

But I’m back, baby. Thanks to the 14th International Mars Society Convention last week in Dallas, there’s a new spring in my step that will come in handy on Mars, where I only weigh 75.4 pounds. I’ll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. If there are any.

I was starting to lose hope. Speaking of lacking gravity, U.S. President Barack Obama is a nice guy, but his vision on space is lightweight. He has scuttled the idea of human missions to the moon and Mars, instead promising to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2020. Gee, that’s great. Let’s all go to a rock.

But the romance of interplanetary space travel is not dead. The theme of the conference – attended by actual grownups – was Mars or Bust! All right! Where do I sign up? If I knew what to pack, I’d start now.

Mars buffs have had it with government. If you want to do anything right, you have to do it yourself. So Elon Musk, the guy who invented PayPal and the Tesla electric car, has announced he’s mounting an expedition to Mars, er, details to follow.

The fact is, no one is quite sure how to get there, or if we could stand the extended blast of cosmic radiation that goes with a long space flight. But that didn’t bother anyone at Mars Or Bust 2011, or prevent them from debating the marriage of X-ray pulsar deep space navigation versus Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rockets (VASIMR). Whatever. Beam me up, Scotty.

Right in the middle of Mars Or Bust, scientists discovered (or thought they did—there’s a lot of that when it comes to Mars) actual water on Mars. This, of course, means it won’t be long before we identify the Martians themselves, who have stayed under the radar until determining if our intentions are friendly.

It’s OK. You can come out now. We come in peace. Let me be the first to shake your tentacle.

Now, how about a condo development with a view of Olympus Mons, just the highest peak in the solar system at 29 kilometres or 95,000 feet! You’ll be a wealthy…entity.

Hey, being the first man on Mars has its advantages.

 
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