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Mars Mission Bioethics 101

By Michael Cook

A one-way trip to Mars, funded from the rights to a reality TV show, raises many bioethical issues.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

All Trekkies are familiar with unavoidable ethical dilemmas in deep space. Now a Dutch group called Mars One is seeking to create them by sending four volunteers to establish a settlement on Mars in April 2023. It will be a one-way trip.

A number of big technology companies are interested in contributing to Mars One, and some big names are publicising it. Gerard ‘t Hooft, a Dutch Nobel laureate in physics, says: “This project seems to me to be the only way to fulfill dreams of mankind’s expansion into space”.

The latest plan is for a crew of four to leave in 2024 and to land in 2025. Thereafter crews will leave every 2 years to build the colony. The first mission will cost an estimated US$6 billion; later missions only $4 billion.

How will such an expensive and risky project be financed? With revenues from reality TV. Paul Römer, the Dutch inventor of Big Brother, is a fan: “This mission to Mars can be the biggest media event in the world. Reality meets talent show with no ending and the whole world watching.”

The TV series will begin with the selection of the astronauts. “Because this mission is humankind’s mission, Mars One has the intention to make this a democratic decision,” says the company. “The whole world will have a vote which group of four will be the first humans on Mars.”

The list of bioethical issues with this project is...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.