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Kamikaze Science

Really giving your all.
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Despite the fact that human life is considered priceless, a surprising amount of people are prepared to give theirs up for various reasons, mostly pointless. Some can no longer cope with their life and feel that any alternative must be better, some believe that by blowing themselves and others to smithereens they will improve the world and secure themselves an honourable death and a place in heaven. Neither person leaves much positive behind in the act of self-destruction.

There are some big questions still to be answered about the universe. Where did life come from? How was the solar system made? Is it likely we are alone? Mars rovers have found scant but intriguing evidence of life on the red planet, though whether it came from Earth or whether Earth was seeded by Mars or neither of these cases are questions that are unlikely to be answered until man spends some time there in person. Sending man to Mars is going to be difficult and expensive though probably possible, but this challenge pales into insignificance compared to getting back. In short, a one way mission would be far cheaper (by several tens of billions of dollars), easier, and given the radiation exposure during the journey, it may well be that the returning astronauts won’t survive for long anyway.

Under the NASA Kamikaze program, the desperate and disaffected can now give their lives to something worth the sacrifice. Successful applicants will be intelligent (but not necessarily educated), fit, and willing to give their own lives for something less pointless than an overdose suicide or a backpack bombing. They will be trained as pilots, astronauts, scientists, astrobiologists, mechanics, all the skills that such a mission will need. Think of it as a cross between a university and a space-faring French Foreign Legion. When the time comes, they will be given their one way ticket to Mars and depart in the knowledge that their sacrifice will add a few more important pieces to the sum total of human knowledge.

Now *that’s* an honourable death.

wagster, Sep 11 2005

Dead Man Standing (on Mars) Dead_20Man_20Standing_20(on_20Mars)
reminded me of this one by [dweeb] [krelnik, Sep 12 2005]

One-Man One-Way Trip to Mars http://www.universe...to-mars/#more-13037
Article arguing in favour of doing this [imaginality, Mar 08 2008]

Journey's End http://www.enotes.c...-end-lovers-meeting
The original [8th of 7, Jul 11 2009]

Journey's End http://en.wikipedia...iki/Journey%27s_End
A somewhat bleaker perspective [8th of 7, Jul 11 2009]

'Gateway' by Frederick Pohl http://www.amazon.c...d=1247435444&sr=1-1
Mostly suicidal space exploration by people with nothing to lose. [DrBob, Jul 12 2009]


       depressed? I'm not sure that becoming a guinea pig will solve anything.
po, Sep 11 2005

       No, but a sense of purpose and direction might.
wagster, Sep 11 2005

       but then he/she/it/they would stop being depressed...
po, Sep 11 2005

       I was just reading two book reviews.   

       One about the space program, and the book apparently makes clear just how risky it all was, with every mission to the Moon coming very close to disaster. Clearly our current risk-adversion makes it unlikely we will continue to explore space.   

       The other was about John Hunter, a key figure in modern medicine, who gained his knowledge dissecting bodies robbed from graves, vivisecting animals, and experimenting on the poor. He (and thus we) could not have gained this knowledge in the current era.   

       Perhaps wagster is onto something...
DrCurry, Sep 11 2005

       The part that gets me is, //They will be trained as pilots, astronauts, scientists, astrobiologists, mechanics//, what if, after all that learning they realize that they suddenly have a reason to go on kicking?   

       There will be special care taken to keep them suicidal throughout the training programme.
Texticle, Sep 12 2005

       You don't have to be depressed to do this. In WWII the Japanese recruited plenty of healthy, happy young men to proudly lay down their lives for a much less worthy cause than this, Al-Aqsa and Al-Queda still do. We're all going to die one day - why live an ordinary life until you're eighty when you could live half that and do something spectacular and historic?
wagster, Sep 12 2005

       The point is that such singing is often bad enough to make others also wish for death. Self-perpetuating, yes?   

       Refer to Robert L. Forward's SF "Rocheworld" series. The crew of that mission to Barnard's Star knew from the outset it was a one-way mission.   

       With my current career, I'd probably sing up for one. No, wait, that's sign...wait...damn you Tindale!
elhigh, Sep 12 2005

       And let's not forget we are talking about people with a mental illness. As long as they have that they won't be able to perform the very difficult tasks. Spaceflight and scientific study takes a lot of concentration, stamina, backbone etc. Not workable. Fishbone for that.   

       Oh, and /happy young men to proudly lay down their lives\ rather they were bullied into it, ordered to die, tortured and forcefed huge amounts of alcoholic beverages.
zeno, Sep 12 2005

       As for a chance to go to Mars, I don't think you would neccessarily need people who are suicidal/mentally ill to volenteer. It's only be a small small percentage of the population, but with 300 million people in the US, finding 100 a year would be easy, and then of course weed out 90% of them to get a "cream of the crop".
Madai, Sep 12 2005

       //And let's not forget we are talking about people with a mental illness// Are we?
wagster, Sep 12 2005

       No, we're not. Depression is by no means the only reason to kill oneself. As a protest, as performance art, as a form of masochism, because one is so happy it could only go downhill from then on. This is an excellent idea, and in fact i heard about someone who wanted to go to Mars one way for this reason. Surely being the first person on a planet would be something worth dying for.
There are probably other areas where it would be worthwhile, such as otherwise unethical experiments.
nineteenthly, Sep 12 2005

       I wonder how many people would be willing to go, hoping that they'd draw a straw to go with a crew full of women.   

       "Not if you were the last man on the planet!" "But I am, baby."
shapu, Sep 12 2005

       "Not if you were the last man on the planet!" your problem.
po, Sep 12 2005

       //Surely being the first person on a planet would be something worth dying for//   

       Surely not. What's the point of prestige if you're not alive to revel in it?   

       But some people would still do it for the experience alone. And they needn't be suicidal. There are plenty of terminally ill patients in an early, non-debilitating stage of a regressive disease.
kinemojo, Sep 13 2005

       I think many people would volunteer for this without being depressed or anything like that. Or maybe I'm just crazy.
Chickenbreadthe1st, Sep 13 2005

       I am not sure but I think that if you send a whole lot of suicidal people to Mars nobody will be alive at the end of the trip...   

       Although could be a great place to put a penal colony.
madness, Sep 13 2005

       Ok, just to clarify things: NASA is not ever going to send deranged, depressed, unstable or stupid people on a critical mission like this. Nor people just hoping to get laid. However they might well take on the education and training of smart people without much of a future who would be prepared to swap a long uneventful life for a short exciting one. I never suggested we recruit the sweepings of the loony bins.
wagster, Sep 13 2005

       //smart people without much of a future// Due to terminal illness?   

       I would probably sign up for a Martian/Lunar/Orbital base building mission just to have the experience of it. I doubt I would be selected.
Zimmy, Sep 13 2005

       I'm not terminally ill. I'm young, I'm healthy, I'm intelligent, I have no mental illness, and I have no deathwish.   

       I would sign up for this in a second. It's a matter of perspective - - here, I'm a speck of dust on a cog in a capitalistic machine. There's more to life than that. :-)
contracts, Sep 13 2005

       It's not that life is so short, it's that death is so long.   

       //Death is so long// Immortality is forever.   

       Death is so long in that it projects your life waves through other people. I'll only be faint memories or just a few pixles on a computer screen someday in the least analytical sense. Thinking more, I'm stardust should there be a massive, prolonged powerfailure.   

       If....You consider my being only the legacy of my recordable history.
Zimmy, Sep 14 2005

       Naw. In a past life I was Atlantian and, like none of that crap was recorded. I was huge, it's such a rip off.   

       Perhaps the scraps of your dining tales & recounted capers were transmitted by sailors to Alexander. (I knew I recognized you from some time or where. The luck of the draw .. where you retain, I stand bare.)
Zimmy, Sep 14 2005

       That Plato guy was a hoot eh?   

       As the clouds caress the coasts, then fade away, I've always danced between the Spartans and Athenians. ...My regrets to Aristotle.   

       The Dreams that transition me from tiredness to sleep often envolve the math of hiding/safety/propulsion / economics of a Private Starship & It's returns.   

       The Propulsion is my own private Hell, I guess.
Zimmy, Sep 14 2005

       You could do it without being depressedly suicidal, but by definition you would be suicidal because you would die. You might not be around to revel in the fame, money and so forth, but you would still get the experience. There are a few conditions which fit this opportunity, like motor neuron disease and Huntington's chorea. Nor need NASA be involved - it can be done privately. Some people see their lives as a living death anyway.
Given the current obsession with not taking risks, maybe anyone who wants to go to another planet might be interpreted as insane soon in any case.
nineteenthly, Sep 14 2005

       //but by definition you would be suicidal because you would die// Then we're all suicidal. Seems trivial whether we die here or there.
Worldgineer, Sep 14 2005

       OK, i didn't express that very well. It's an inevitable consequence of your trip that you die, but as you were going to die anyway it doesn't matter is what i meant. You would need to be fit enough, mentally and physically, to get there, or at least have to do something, like observations or experiments, in the early part of the trip to make it worthwhile, but you wouldn't have to worry about things like radiation and the risk of osteoporosis so much, or carrying enough stuff to get you home again.
You could probably actually _land_ on Venus because the lander could just succumb to the environment for example.
nineteenthly, Sep 14 2005

       Why "Kamikaze?" Does it mean "suicide?"
bristolz, Sep 14 2005

       "Kamikaze" means "Wind of God" and was the name given to Japanese suicide pilots in WWII who crashed into US warships.   

       "Suicide" has connotations of depression and mental illness, "Kamikaze" is more of a "donate your life to this cause" sort of idea. Plus there's the whole one-way flight parallel.   

       Oh yes, and "Kamikaze" sounds cool when it rolls off the tongue, "Suicide" definitely doesn't.
wagster, Sep 14 2005

       I personally wouldn't do this. I'd want to be with my friends and family when on my death bed, not in some alien planet with some weirdos travelling with me. You'd have to have an almost fantatical obsession with the progression of science to want to do this, or be extrememly lonely.
chocolateraindrops, Sep 14 2005

       What happens to the bodies when they die? Are they left to rot on the planet or will they be contained in the vessel?
fridge duck, Sep 14 2005

       They are freeze-dried by a robot and photographed, as per Dead Man Standing (on Mars). That probably wouldn't work on Venus. As for a fanatical obsession with science, it's reminiscent, though more extreme, of the researcher who deliberately gave himself a stomach ulcer by swallowing bacteria to establish that they could cause them. You would have to be a bit of a loner. Also, i imagined doing it alone, not with "other weirdos".
nineteenthly, Sep 14 2005

       There's a connotation we're missing here: if the first visitors to another planet are condemned to die there, then there's a risk that the (relatively) unenlightened public will associate "visits to distant planets" = "one-way trip." While I think it's a great idea to find someone willing to literally give his -or her- all in the name of science, what if it erodes the public opinion?
elhigh, Sep 15 2005

       Rightly or wrongly, martyrdom usually rallies public support.
wagster, Sep 15 2005

       This would make for an interesting legal semantics debate. Could one be prevented from making this “one way trip” because death is a certain consequence? Suicide is illegal (here), but nobody is prosecuted because they died, or they failed to commit the crime. If they will certainly succeed in killing themselves, can they be charged with attempted suicide before the fact? Premeditated attempted suicide? Can we legally distinguish the kamikaze from the suicidal?
Shz, Sep 15 2005

       //There will be special care taken to keep them suicidal throughout the training programme//   

       Thank you. You made it worth logging on today.
crater, Sep 15 2005

       Death is; so long.
BunsenHoneydew, Sep 27 2007

       //"Kamikaze" means "Wind of God" and was the name given to Japanese suicide pilots in WWII who crashed into US warships.//
"Kamikaze" means "Divine Wind", and recalls two storms that blew up in 1274 and 1281 and destroyed invading Mongol forces, proving to be the salvation of the Japanese.
It has no intrinsic association with suicide.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Sep 27 2007

       I'm against giving an intelligent thing a way to kill itself. Not without, at least, some small chance of survival.... but then this would be a "suicide mission" like what I'm used to seeing James Bond taking, where if everything goes just right, he survives. There is no reason to send a man, woman, or child on a death mission unless it is really super important.   

       Okay, I'll go to alpha centuri or venus, but not to mars or the moon, and the video has to catch me in the process of doing something really superheroic, like preventing a supernova or something. Also, people have to spread a legend about how I'm, er, coming back to life and going to seek vengence on dead zombies, not that it really will happen, but that people will believe it and will do what I say.... lol, this is a case of severe superman-itis!   

       Okay, that was a fun rant.
quantum_flux, Sep 27 2007

       How about a variation where there is a /slim/ chance that you might survive? As in, heading off to Mars with some equipment that /might/ allow you to mine the regolith for water, grow crops in a bubble and hang on for dear life.   

       The reality TV people are salivating.
James Newton, Sep 27 2007

       Kind of like shoving a hundred people in a wooden boat with enough food for three months, minimal farming equipment, no wilderness experience and dropping them off on an unmapped continent in autumn?   

       Hey it worked before.
Galbinus_Caeli, Sep 27 2007

       // Although could be a great place to put a penal colony...// madness, Sep 13 2005   

       Australia is full, already???
Mister Sketchly, Sep 27 2007

       //penal colony....Australia// Sp.: penile.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 08 2008

       You could set it up as a one-way trip without a rocket to get back, but you could still provide all the equipment for a biosphere. I don't know whether we have the technology to do it all artificially yet (poo into a machine and food comes out) but even if it meant sending loads of plants and water, it could be done.   

       Using that method, NASA has a good case for continued funding, based on the fact that they have people out there waiting for technology to improve enough for a relief mission to replace them.   

       Re: terminally ill astronauts. I don't know of many things that would give you long enough for the trip (I think it takes about a year) and all the training before hand. HIV sufferers maybe.
marklar, Mar 09 2008

       There would be almost no public support for research or exploration that sent people to their certain deaths, even if they volunteered.   

       However, what we *do* need to change is this idea that nobody is allowed to risk their life. At the moment, we are not prepared to accept any risk to (say) astronauts, and therefore public support dries up whenever there is a fatality.   

       This contrasts very much from the attitude that prevailed in the development of flight. The element of risk was a popular appeal, and public support increased (rather than declining) if an heroic pioneer was tragically killed in the pursuit of a dream.   

       This is why our current space programme is slowly regressing back to the pre-1960s era.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 09 2008

       This brings a whole new meaning to 'take a hike'.
danman, Jul 10 2009

       I wouldn't worry about it too much, [MB]. The risk of a problem on a combat flight mission runs about 1 in 2000, whereas in space flight it's 1 in 300.
normzone, Jul 10 2009

       The problem with flying into a black hole or a pulsar is that while the journey's end may be exiting, the journey itself could get a little tedious.
wagster, Jul 11 2009

       // journey's end //   



       // flying into a black hole ... the journey's end may be exiting //   

       It's hard to dispute that ...
8th of 7, Jul 11 2009

       I've thought for a while that the first men on Mars will be Chinese, because they won't be as averse to sending people on a one-way trip as we would here in the West.   

       Getting to Mars is a lot easier if you don't have to take enough fuel to get back again at the end of the mission.
Wrongfellow, Jul 13 2009

       Just wait til a astronaut develops a convenient deadly, but slow disease.   

       "Just step outside the hut Buzz, so the follow on crew doesn't have to clean up the mess."
popbottle, May 21 2013

       If you only knew then what we know now: this is a foreshadowing of Squid Game. lol
minoradjustments, Nov 14 2021


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