Hold off the salivation of sending your favorite personality on this mission. I’m interested in your ethical commentary on this Jim McLane proposal I saw at Universe Today blogged by Nancy Atkinson last week. Speaking on the genesis of the idea, McLane said:
I noticed the cosmonaut seemed to be a slightly different type of person than the American astronaut. Cosmonauts are primarily pilots, and like test pilots, they are very focused on getting the job done. The current American astronauts are picked for things such as their speaking ability and social skills, and most of them have advanced degrees. But the cosmonaut struck me as an adventurous, get-things-done-type person, like our original astronauts back in the 1960’s.
“Get it done” is the motivation. McLane doesn’t want to fuss with a big crew, extra supplies, and the return mission. Send the astronaut up with what she or he will need. I suppose uncrewed robot ships could send more stuff.
Suicide? McLane says its logical.
There would be tremendous risk, yes, but I don’t think that’s guaranteed any more than you would say climbing a mountain alone is a suicide mission. People do dangerous things all the time, and this would be something really unique, to go to Mars. I don’t think there would be any shortage of people willing to volunteer for the mission. Lindbergh was someone who was willing to risk everything because it was worth it. I don’t think it will be hard to find another Lindbergh to go to Mars. That will be the easiest part of this whole program.
McLane’s right. Lots of people would sign up for this mission. Not me, however. From an ethical view, is a mission like this right?