Welcome to a new recurring feature, The Big Question. In these posts, I will pose a hypothetical question to you, dear readers, and look forward to your thoughts and opinions. The questions will focus primarily on ethical or social implications of scientific and technological progress, and there are no right or wrong answers, just an open exchange of opinions and viewpoints.
Let’s get started with this month’s Big Question:
One of the biggest technological challenges for a manned mission to Mars is transporting the food, water, air, vehicles and fuel needed for the return trip home. A one-way mission would be significantly easier to undertake, and could put humans on Mars decades ahead of their round-trip counterparts.
Would you volunteer to be the first human to set foot on Mars knowing that you would die there within months of your arrival? If not, are there any conditions under which you would volunteer for a one-way mission? Assuming legitimate volunteers came forward, should we as a society even consider such a mission?