Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Mars - The First Hundred

This is very exciting - the first hundred people have been chosen from more than 200,000 applicants, who will be training over the next ten years to go to Mars.
By co-incidence, I've been reading a book of essays about Kim Stanley Robinson recently - Kim Stanley Robinson Maps the Unimaginable - in which various scholars discuss his Mars trilogy in some depth (but oddly, without once mentioning the word Demimonde, which is the half underground colony within a colony where some of the alternative economic ideas are worked out). That's Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars, with an associated book of short stories called The Martians. In these books, the first Mars mission sends one hundred colonists - the First Hundred - who play a huge role in the way Mars is shaped over the next two hundred or so years. In KSR's future, the team was led by the Americans and the Russians (having been written towards the end of the Cold War), with other nationalities like Hiroko, the Japanese food specialist who becomes a mystic who leads a breakaway group - and a stowaway known as Coyote, after the Native American trickster god.
The Guardian has a list of the "top ten" who were chosen. They come from all over the world, including a Japanese lady who wants to open the first sushi bar on Mars! They are physicists and engineers and astronomers, a specialist in sustainable food systems and software developers. Five of them come from the UK, and fifty men and fifty women were chosen. Unlike Kim Stanley Robinson's First Hundred, though, who all went on the same flight, four astronauts will be sent at a time until there are 40 people living on Mars. Once there, they'll never be able to come back.

[Edited to add: On a second look at the news, it looks as if they might not make it off the ground, but at least they're trying!}

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