The idea, to say the least, was provocative. Back in March Nancy Atkinson wrote a piece for Universe Today about a retired NASA engineer named Jim McLane, who suggested a way to jump-start human settlement of Mars: go before we're sure how to get back. Her original piece is HERE, and the post I wrote about it is HERE.
"When we eliminate the need to launch off Mars, we remove the mission’s most daunting obstacle," McLane told her. He said it would not be a suicide mission, but that risks are necessary when you do great things. "I don’t think there would be any shortage of people willing to volunteer for the mission. Lindbergh was someone who was willing to risk everything because it was worth it. I don’t think it will be hard to find another Lindbergh to go to Mars."
Nancy has now sent me a note to say that amid the hundreds of responses the story got, one stands out -- from a soldier stationed in Afghanistan, SFC William H. Ruth III. He says he and his comrades in the 101st Airborne Division are "ready and willing to go."
SFC Ruth wrote, "While reading Jim McLane and Nancy Atkinson’s thoughts on Space Colonization, I started to realize that we ‘ALL’ have lost our way. We have become so consumed by petty differences and dislikes of others that we all have forgotten our pre destiny of something better."
He continued, "Will we falter at a hint of death or danger? Or will we do now what so many in ‘ALL’ of the world’s history has done before us. NASA of all thinking societies should understand this. Would there even be an America or NASA if a man named Columbus had not pursued a dangerous and possibly deadly voyage to a new world? He certainly had to consider whether or not he would ever return home to see all those he loved so dearly. But what of those aboard his ships, those that left Spain knowing that they would never return. Those few that willingly risked all for the chance at a new world and a new future, could they have possibly known what effects they would have had on the future due to their sacrifices? Now can we have enough vision to see our destiny, can we, for a moment, see past our petty differences of race and religion to see…peace, prosperity and possibly a new world."
Nancy Atkinson's followup story is HERE, and she's posted "A Soldier's Perspective" from Ruth HERE. Ruth struck up a correspondence with a Spanish journalist, Javier Yanes of a newspaper called Publico, and he forwarded Ruth's message.
"I fully agree with NASA and others that it is completely dangerous and potentially deadly for anyone who sets out on this voyage," Ruth wrote. "But since when has that ever stopped anyone?"