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Scientist and author Lawrence Krauss has written an Op-Ed for the New York Times in which he calls for a one-way trip to Mars to inaugurate the beginnings of human exploration of the Red Planet:

While the idea of sending astronauts aloft never to return is jarring upon first hearing, the rationale for one-way trips into space has both historical and practical roots. Colonists and pilgrims seldom set off for the New World with the expectation of a return trip, usually because the places they were leaving were pretty intolerable anyway. Give us a century or two and we may turn the whole planet into a place from which many people might be happy to depart.

…If it sounds unrealistic to suggest that astronauts would be willing to leave home never to return alive, then consider the results of several informal surveys I and several colleagues have conducted recently. One of my peers in Arizona recently accompanied a group of scientists and engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on a geological field trip. During the day, he asked how many would be willing to go on a one-way mission into space. Every member of the group raised his hand.

It’s an idea that I’ve always thought should be worth considering. The early days of the space program saw test pilots/astronauts willing to submit to huge risks in order to advance our knowledge and abilities – I’m sure many today would be of a similar mindset. And who could resist having their names permanently etched in history as the first humans to settle another planet…