Thinking about the book “Packing for Mars” and wondering…


One of the drivers (other than the circular slide rule my father gave me) for me and technology was NASA. I loved everything to do with the space program. It started for me in 1967. It went the wrong way when VI Grissom died in Apollo 1 but like so many kids my age back then I was steadfast in the race to the NASAmoon. I learned later that race was in part based on a brilliant speech by John Kennedy. It was in the end a race that changed humanity in so many ways.

I watched (and watch although less now because of work) every launch. I applied for the teacher in space program but of course we all know I didn’t get that or I wouldn’t be typing now.

NASA along with the original Star Trek made me into a technologist. Not for the seeking of what could be but instead the as a friend always puts it “the art of the possible.”

One of my favorite books is the discussion of what you would take on a journey to Mars. Could you be introspective for a year? Two years? Sitting alone or possibly one/two other people reading, writing and evaluating the universe? What would you need on that journey?

I have made packing for Mars lists. I know that is geeky but I have done it. Several times in my life I’ve sat down and thought about the 40 things I would Image result for image of a saturn five rocketneed for a 3 maybe 4 year journey. Before the Kindle it would have been boxes of books. Now its just my Kindle.  What would you need to ride that craft into the great beyond.

Packing for Mars

  1. Kindle of course you would have to disable whispersync. Oh yeah and you would need more memory than the existing Kindles or a computer to store the additional books on
  2. Pictures – everyone I know and have known. Plus a way on occasion to burn precious bandwidth and get new pictures of people I love.
  3. Music – I would have to have a lot of Neil Young. Everything he has written over the years and a place to store that either an MP3 player or perhaps the computer with the Kindle Library.
  4. IoT sensors around me to both have an deploy. Be able to gather as much information as possible about the journey to consider.

So many more things but you are limited. In effect you would take with you your connection to the world. That connection would have to support aging. That in the end is the problem. That connection changes. So you would have to be prepared not for the loneliness of space. That would get to you a bit in the 4 years. But rather the biggest shock might be on arriving home.

The world would not be as you left it. Things change in a week, four years may make more changes than you would want to deal with upon return. That means you would have to select people that in the end don’t want require human interaction all the time and don’t mind being different when they do return to constant human interaction.

I guess in the end you have to pack certain communication patterns in the craft with you. Oh and make sure you don’t hit the triggers that create the anti-pattern reaction all patterns have.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

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