Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

March 8, 2013

Married in space: A mission to Mars

ASHLAND — Last week my husband sent me an email.

When it popped up on my phone, the subject read: A few more miles than the AT.

Hmmm, I thought, what could he be talking about?  

I open the email. “Think Mudfoot and Fireman could do it?” it said above a nondescript link.

The AT refers to the Appalachian Trail, of which we hiked 1,400 miles of in 2010. Lately, we’ve have been itching to get “back on the trail,” so I thought maybe Carl had found a different long distance trail somewhere.

I was wrong. When I clicked on the link, the story that opened up was headlined “Married couple sought for Mars voyage.”

“Seriously? Is my husband really asking me to go to Mars?” I thought. If you know Carl, it’s not too hard to imagine.

He is always up for an adventure. He dreams them up, then works on convincing me. He’s got a pretty good record so far, but this is by far the most outlandish one yet.

A mission to Mars is right up his alley.

Carl is fascinated by space and its sciences. He reads physics books for fun and watches Discovery Channel shows about black holes and other space phenomenon I can’t wrap my brain around even after hours of attempting to.

But back to Mars.

Millionaire businessman Dennis Tito, who was the first space tourist himself, plans to send a married couple on a 140 million mile, 501-day Mars fly-by mission. It would launch in January 2018 and return to earth the following summer.

A married couple would be best for the trip because of the solitude and the length of the trip. Both sexes should be represented too, Tito says, because both girls and boys who would see themselves reflected in the astronauts and become inspired.

A middle-aged couple is prefered because of the bodily risks.  It makes sense to me. Who better than a married couple already bound “till death do them part” to take on such a dangerous challenge.

The space ship would have a cozy living space of 17-cubic meters. That’s a Manhattan size apartment but with an even better view.

Like so many things, though, the devil is in the details.

The couple would be required to breathe recycled oxygen, drink water recycled from their sweat and urine, eat food rehydrated with that water and not shower. I saw no mention of how No. 2’s would be handled...

I don’t think so, I decided.

When I got home that night, Carl greeted me with a kiss then immediately asked, “Did you get my email?”  

“Yes,” I replied, “I think we should stick to the AT.”

“It would be just like the AT,” he teased. “An exciting adventure with a tent-like living space.”

“Yeah, except that tent is a tin can hurtling through space,” I quipped back.

“We’d be the first couple to go to see Mars,” he said, before adding with a grin, “We could even have the first space baby.”

Yeah right. “We’d also most likely be the first couple to die in space,” I fired back.

“That’s true, but they’d probably build us a statue or something. We’d be famous,” he said with a hearty laugh.

I think it’s safe to say the Stambaughs won’t be going to Mars anytime soon or in 2018 either.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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