Re: why 30? one good woman will suffice/SPIKE

Bartley R. Troyan (
Fri, 02 Apr 1999 03:03:05 -0500

Spike Jones wrote:
> The minimalist approach requires no technology that we dont already
> have. The lander module I have in mind would be very small, too
> small in fact It would be just sufficient to sustain a little bit
> of human life, until the machines could build farm and hab modules
> for the generations that would follow, all born right there on the red planet.
> Now, even that approach would require some cutting edge engineering:
> software for the machines so that they could operate semi-autonomously,
> for instance. The sole advantage to the minimalist approach is cost.
> But the sacrifice required on the part of the colonist is profound, I
> must admit.

Do you really think that the cost of sending one person to raise a group of 10-20 kids from embryos all the way to a productive age (early teens?), is lower than the cost of getting 10-20 adults and the stuff they need to survive and thrive to mars? I don't know if even the most motivated single mom is going to have time to grow/manufacture the food they all need, repair the odd broken solar array, manage all sorts of other tasks, and change diapers, chase toddlers, play with and read to these kids so they turn out intelligent.

I agree that automation/AI would help out greatly, but we haven't yet reached the level I think would be needed to make your plan more cost-effective. Wouldn't it be cheaper in the long run to send a group of somewhere from 10-50 young adults (maybe some teenagers, sure)?

The hardships faced being the first (and only) adult human living on another planet's surface seem to be more than one person could handle. What if mom gets cancer and dies suddenly--what happens to all the kids? What if she breaks an arm? Possibilities like these make a single colonist plan completely infeasible in my mind.

> For a while I toyed with the idea of offering the job to a condemned
> criminal who would otherwise be executed. However, I realized this
> approach would not work: there are not many women who are on
> death row, and I doubt a suitable candidate could be found among
> that limited pool. I do not wish to restart the capital punishment virus
> here. Please.
> So again, I am back to: how small could the mission be scaled? spike

Not *that* small.

I do think we're getting to a point where we a wealthy individual or corporation could fund a small expedition that had a reasonable chance of success, with additional colonists to follow as soon as the infrastructure is in place for them to arrive. Are ya listening, Bill G.?