To the Red Planet, Alice…To The Red Planet

<a version of this> was originally published in Funnies Extra!

Short tempered Ralph Cramden, played by Jackie Gleason, on The Honeymooners was always shaking his fist at his lovely wife Alice and yelling, “to the moon, Alice!…to the moon.” It was an idle threat, we all knew. Ralph loved Alice very much. He wouldn’t knock her to the moon.
If they were to do a remake of that show today, Ralph might have an option for sending Alice on an interplanetary journey that didn’t involve unforgiveable domestic violence.

I saw today that Mars One announced its 100 finalists for their manned missions to the Red Planet in 2024. As you’ll recall, there’s just one catch: Mars One has no plans to bring their astronauts back. Most of $6 billion of funding needed will be raised via a globally televised reality show that will follow the journey of these candidates as they vie for a chance at a one way ticket. In theory, a global television audience may actually choose-or it at least influence-who gets to go.

That got me thinking…If NASA had hosted a reality show to pick the first astronauts to land on the moon in 1969 Americans would have probably sent John Wayne and Steve McQueen with Jerry Lewis as a stowaway.

The first landing would have been delayed because McQueen would have refused to go until the Lunar Rover (which debuted on the 1971 landing) was ready. Neil Armstrong’s “One giant leap” quote was pretty good but picture the Duke leading the way. He would have climbed stiffly down that skinny ladder, looked back up into the lander, made one of those I’m-the-boss-of-this-here-wagon-train gestures ahead, and hollered “Move out!” Steve McQueen would have slide down the ladder rail, hopped in the driver’s seat of the Rover, and said, “Let’s see what this baby will do!” It would have taken Jerry Lewis 15 minutes and three tries to get down the ladder in John Wayne’s backup astronaut suit. At the bottom he would have sneezed on the lens of his helmet, crawled gingerly in the back seat of the Rover, and asked in a nasally voice, “Where’s the seatbelt?” The Nielsen TV Ratings would have been off the charts.

A year ago, when this article was originally published I made predictions for who would be in the six teams of four. I was wrong but I’ll share them with you anyway.

  1. Blue Man Group
  2. The Ex-Backstreet Boys,
  3. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Toughest Man on Mars Pay-Per-View 2024
  4. Real Housewives of Mars Hills
  5. Red Road Truckers
  6. Real Estate Agents That Were Once Lawyers (who will ultimately be on the first launch because everybody in the world wants fewer of both on this planet)
“FamilyTruckster” by Adam Lautenbach — Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

It will take the winning team 201 days to travel to Mars. Their interplanetary spaceship has not yet been designed but prototype drawings leaked to the press show a vehicle that looks remarkably like the Griswold’s Wagon Queen Family Truckster from the movie National Lampoon Vacation with a big rocket and an Igloo cooler strapped to the roof rack with bungee cords.

The first landing will be an unmanned flight carrying a communications satellite, a demonstration rover, and a supply lander filled with essential such as a moonshine still and Re/Max For Sale signs. Everything needed for the first crew will be set up remotely and ready for them when they arrive. An artist’s depiction of the Mars One colony looks like a row of tea kettles — “habitats” — bolted together.

Subsequently, each crew will have two years to prepare the habitat for the next crew. At that rate, it will be a couple of decades until there is a large enough network of contractors, artists, and beauty professionals to support the arrival of the Real Housewives. Since no one is going home, the crews will have to make plans to populate their new world.

photo credit: Taber Andrew Bain

Accordingly, the Mars One web design team is working on the Match.Mars.com to make it easier for busy working Martians to connect.

It will be fun to watch this play out during the next decade. Mars One colonists will sacrifice their lives here on earth but will go down in history as true space pioneers. Part of me wishes I could go. A very, very, very small part of me…

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