A Conversation with a A Man Who Went to Mars
Morgan Kochel’s conversation with a A Man Who Went to Mars:
Training lasted twelve months, very intense, including psychiatric tests. It took us about 230 days to get there, and slightly less back. We used rocket technology regularly available now. Just bigger tanks and more thrust. Nothing unusual in equipment to get there, but better radiation protection, as you can imagine, due to journey time.
We landed near Ares Vallis. Our employers got some data about the Sojourner landing, and this was the place they wanted to explore. We took the same type of collecting devices used by geologists, which is why this had to be a manned mission, as no robot could do this. There were plenty of minerals that we analyzed on the way home: metals, particularly gold(?), and some other substance that was a form of composite like carbon fiber, but already in a usable form. The list of items gathered was long, all of it valuable, some were totally unique, others were more mundane. I think part of our mission was to evaluate the commercial viability of future mining missions, and also to ascertain potential value related to the density of minerals per square meter of Martian surface.
There’s only a thin atmosphere on Mars, so you see a thin veil of the outer atmosphere from the surface, like a slight glowing red sky, but then blackness out into space. Again, like so much we see on TV. Very bizarre, but I felt like I’d been there before, although I hadn’t. Just familiarity.
The fact that our chief engineer was chastised for talking about our arrival back on the phone to someone is what alerted me of possible issues. We were told not to discuss anything in exact terms such as timings, etc., as we would compromise the mission. Also, we were promised a “keep quiet bonus” of many millions for not divulging our findings on Mars; obviously, that alerted me to an issue! We were also prevented from leaving our base unless escorted. This was after the month or so of rehabilitation that it took to regain body strength. As you can imagine, we all wanted to get out and try to contact our families, but were told we couldn’t. That immediately made me think something was wrong. All our money was in Swiss deposit boxes in cash, and we had no way of getting it or communicating without supervision.
We were told before we left that we would face up to three months of testing and decontamination procedures when we returned, but I only did about six weeks, as I escaped once I found out what was happening to my colleagues. I feel sick and dizzy from time to time, but it is difficult to treat when no one believes you! They were testing my colleagues to see what improvements were needed to ensure the safety of future missions. In effect, we were highly-paid guinea pigs.
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