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Colonizing Mars – A Science Fiction Fantasy?


By James Donahue

September 2005


Four Frontiers, a Florida-based space commerce company, is setting its sights on establishing a human settlement on Mars as a first step toward our reaching out for the stars.


The firm plans to open a Martian research and outreach center, described as a cross between a museum and an amusement park and designed to give people the feeling of exploring a Martian settlement without leaving Earth.


The park will be but a first step toward its ultimate achievement, said company CEO Mark Homnick. “We see ourselves as the pioneers of the new space frontier. We follow in the path made by the early explorers such as NASA and the ESA. We settle in the new land, we turn it into a home,” Homnick said.


Four Frontiers is somewhat of an expansion of the old Mars Foundation, a non-profit organization that has plans for a “Homestead Project” on Mars. But instead of focusing on one settlement capable of supporting a small group of initial settlers on the red planet, Four Frontiers takes a wider perspective.


“We want to establish the Mars settlement envisioned by the Mars Foundation because we view it as the essential element that will help open the rest of the solar system,” said vice president Joseph Palaia.


The name Four Frontiers suggests an emerging inner-solar system economy that the members believe will develop from explorations of the Earth, Moon, Mars and asteroids.


Indeed, this is the stuff of childhood dreams. As a boy science fiction writers like Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles sent dreams of alien contact and human exploration of that mysterious planet racing through my head. I saved and hoarded a Colliers Magazine filled with stories and artist’s drawings that carefully described how we would propel the first men from Earth to the Moon and beyond, and build a space station orbiting our planet.


Back then the idea of space exploration was a vivid dream. I have since lived to watch the Apollo Astronauts blast off for the Moon and the space station become reality. Now planning is in the works for that trip to Mars. .


When Richard Hoagland published The Monuments of Mars and projected images of the now infamous human face on Mars, allegedly shot from a NASA exploration craft, and suggested that other pictures showed the ruins of buildings and even a giant pyramid at a place called Cydonia, it was almost as if Bradbury’s stories were coming to life before my eyes.  


But alas, the reality of our dependence on planet Earth has been discovered. Our astronauts found that they cannot live in space for extended periods of time without suffering bone and muscular deterioration. Experimentation has revealed that animals from Earth cannot even breed successfully in space without the help of the natural gravitational pull of Mother Earth.


Is the cost and effort to send men that far out into space worth the sacrifice?


We may possess the DNA of an alien race, but humans live in bodies created by the Earth and designed to remain rooted to the Earth by not only gravity but the air, soil and water that comprises our natural environment. If we cannot take our environment with us into space, our exploration of space is limited to brief trips perhaps no farther than the Moon and back.


Yet the dream of going on to Mars remains fixed in a lot of us. It isn’t just because George W. Bush wants NASA to sent humans to Mars. That was cheap politics designed to make him sound like the late John F. Kennedy. The little twerp will never match the grace and style of Kennedy no how hard he tries.


Men want to expand their horizons to the stars for more than one reason. We are curious, we have populated every corner of this planet and are looking for new frontiers, and we are desperate.


The desperation comes from a deep subconscious awareness that our foolishness has destroyed the natural environment of the Mother Earth that sustains life. If we cannot find a suitable replacement for Earth soon, we face mass death and probably extinction.


It is for this last reason more than any other that the push is on now to send a manned mission to Mars.


Such a mission may end in failure. It may end in disaster. But in our desperation we want to try everything we can to dig ourselves out of the horror pit we put ourselves into. The one bright truth is that we come from alien stock. Some alien race of beings visited Earth from the distant stars many thousands of years ago and planted their DNA code in us.


There is a cellular memory within us that remembers this. We know it is possible to travel beyond the confines of this planet. If they could come to us, perhaps it is possible for Earthlings to go to them and elsewhere. We just have to find a way.


But time is running short.


Strangely, I must now argue that humans are spending too much time and energy rushing off in the wrong direction in our quest to resolve this dilemma. We need, instead, to look within and discover ourselves. Once we do this, the answers will come.

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