why 30? one good woman will suffice

Spike Jones (spike66@ibm.net)
Sat, 27 Mar 1999 23:29:39 -0800

Gina Miller wrote:

> Okay, I'll give you that. But your descriptions were, well lets say a
> little uneasy to say the least. I wonder if your suggestion would even
> be one to conseder at that point of technological advances.

Gina, I could perhaps have introduced the concept a little more gradually or gently to avoid squicking those recently joining the conversation. {8^D Please follow me here:

Two good friends tied the knot upon graduating high school and within a year a baby girl was conceived. By ultrasound they learned their fetus was extensively handicapped. After an agonizing month, they decided to go thru with the birth. She was born with a severe case of spina bifida, with myelocele (exposed section of spine with unformed lower vertebrae). The doctors considered her chances of reaching her teens as a poor, but said if she manages to survive to the end of the growth time, she might have many years of adulthood.

Turns out, this child was given a wonderful gift to compensate for her physical deformity: a triple dose of courage, can-do attitude and fighting spirit. She can do many wonderful things, that you and I cannot do: she drags her tiny and useless aft limbs along the floor, but her arms have compensated. She can lift her weight with either arm (admittedly not much weight) and can clamber up on a chair without turning it over. She uses her chin as an appendage of sorts. She is fiercely independent, and can do for herself quite competently.

I have refered to this girl as "child" but in fact she turns 20 this summer, beating the medics dire predictions.

Nowthen, consider the facts that we know from our extensive experience from the commie space station: weightlessness is bad for you. Even if the astronauts exercise, they practically have to be carried off the lander after a few month on orbit. The large bones immediately start to dump calcium after launch, by which I mean the femurs and tibias. All that excess calcium does all kinds of harm to the kidneys and other organs, in addition to all the muscle atrophy that takes place. Fact: weightlessness is unhealthy.

So who do we choose for astronauts? We choose fighter pilots, all American, football playing, built-like-greek- gods, mostly men. Exactly the type that will suffer most from going weightless for the 8 month trip to Mars.

Why not a small woman? Why not get a small handicapped woman without those big muscular femurs? Nevermind the calcium dumping aspect, what about the fact that she eats a fraction of a normal sized man, and produces a fraction the solid and liquid wastes, and can be comfortable in a much smaller space? She has entertained herself for years with video games. A long space voyage would not be all that different from her previous life.

If we used a physically challenged person for the first Mars mission, it would form a wonderful morale booster for the earthbound handicapped. It would make the term "differently abled" into more than just the latest politically correct term for crippled, it would come to actually mean *differently abled* because it would point out that these people really are better at some tasks than are "normal" people.

Eliezer has encouraged us to talk about things that we can start doing right now, as opposed to the distant and foggy future. This is a prime example: for a Mars mission, *everything* scales to the size of the crew. If you scale it all the way down to one person, especially a 30 kg person (like the spina bifida victim I described earlier), then we currently *have* the propulsion technology to get her to Mars. Today, now! Three shuttle launches would suffice, or perhaps 5 Titans.

And I will tell you Gina, I would bet on that young lady, long before I would bet on the track star fighter jocks we now have. I would bet on her to have the intestinal fortitude to fight against long odds, to work steadily to set up an environment for future generations in that harsh space environment. Even if her farm capsule failed and she faced death by starvation, I would bet on her to continue to work to the end of her strength to build infrastructure for those who would follow, inspired by her courage. Her whole life has been spent meeting and overcoming severe challenges. This indeed could be the mother of the Martian race. spike