Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova

Does Mars One need to find some willing celebrities to spend the rest of their life on Mars? Might some fading stars decide this was the perfect way to revive their career, or an elderly star decide to retire in style? The big question for the celebrity would then be whether enduring fame was what they craved as the end in itself; or were they really after those side benefts of fame like money, sex, luxury and disposable income?

Being a world(s)-famous celebrity may not mean much to some people without the parties, everyday recognition, offers of sponsorships and appearances, and thousands of thronging fans.

On Mars money will be irrelevant, fame will mean adulation at a distance, there will be no big parties, awards nights, crowds of fawning hangers-on, or chances to luxuriate in Nero-esque mansions.

How would the pressure of TV exposure affect the crew? Would it help keep them sane and in touch with others; or just add an extra layers of pressure, even prompt outbursts of anger or erratic behaviour? Would that odd behaviour boost ratings and therefore actually help the mission and it’s finances by increased audience and sponsorship money?.Perhaps being “allowed” to be quirky would be psychologically healthy.

In that regard would sending a celebrity or two be good? People who were used to dealing with intrusive papparazi, who even thrived on the constant attention, or sought that attention as an end in itself?

Of course the whole idea of the mission and its 24/7 TV coverage means the crew would quickly become celebrities, but that meanstheir psychology would only be tested on-route. Existing celebrities have already endured (or enjoyed) fame and so might be better candidates.

Yet what existing celebrities might volunteer to go?

How about old celebrities? People for whom the lure of sex, drugs, wild parties and movie deals no longer holds any sway.

50 years ago

This month the space community is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first woman in space, Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova. Ahead of the celebrations she announced her desire to be part of a one-way mission to Mars.

She’s not a celebrity in the shallow junk magazine sense, but rather a figure of history. She was awarded the status of “Hero of the Soviet Union” after her historic flight of June 16th 1963. She was afterwards active in politics, was awarded the United Nations Gold Medal of Peace, and has been a respected politician in the new Russia.

Assuming it’ll take at least 10 years to get the first mission together (whether it be Mars-One or someone else), that means she’ll be in her 80s.

That rather negates any worries about long-term radiation effects, although it does raise the question about the role of older colonists.

Older people can bring stability to a group. They’re often less rash and impetuous, more prone to considered action drawn from experience. The fact that they may not have many good years left may also be a factor. In dire circumstances they may be more inclined to volunteer for a hazardous mission.

On the other hand what happens if an older colonist develops dementia or some other debilitating but non-fatal ailment? The crew member might become an object of pity, the source of friction among more able-bodied crew, or even a threat to the security of the colony but erratic actions.

What if they begged to die? This might be from a purely personal desire, or perhaps from prolonged suffering stemming from a lack of adequate care on Mars, the knowledge they were drawing down resources without contributing, or a lucid moment when the recognized they might inadvertently make a mistake and endanger others.

Adding an older person might be a canny move by the Mars-One directors. Imagine if a euthanasia debate on Mars, broadcast 24/7 ended up being the pivotal moment of the debate here on Earth.

It’s just one of a thousand different scenarios that an off-world colony might spark.

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