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Sonia Van Meter, Sunday, 4-12-15 April 13, 2015

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Sonia Van Meter, Sunday, 4-12-15


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Guest: Sonia Van Meter. Topics: The Mars 100, going to & living on Mars, human spaceflight, space exploration, STEM. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm. For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

We welcomed Sonia Van Meter to the show to discuss Mars One and the Mars 100 as Sonia was selected to be part of the Mars 100. During the first segment of our 100 minute program, Sonia was asked when she first knew she wanted to go to Mars. Though she has always been interested in space and related topics, it was not until she discovered Mars One that she became interested in going to Mars. During the early part of this discussion, Sonia puts forth why she wants to go to Mars & why she thinks it is important to go there. These themes were repeated throughout our discussion. Sonia got many questions about how difficult it might to leave family and friends plus listeners wanted to know if she was a skeptic about the Mars One mission. Sonia explained the importance of looking forward and focusing on the future, not on being skeptical. She was asked how she got her Mars information. She does due diligence on her own as well as receiving some information from Mars One. Sonia said she was in touch with many of the other Mars 100 finalists and they also due their own due diligence and discuss topics among themselves on a frequent basis. Listener questions by emailed were coming in rapidly asking everything from her backup plan if she did not go to Mars to what she would do for healthcare on the Mars One mission. Many listeners asked her about the risks including human spaceflight medical issues, launch risks, and more. She said the mission would need to be vetted by scientists and medical types and if she did not think it was safe, she would pull out of it. Other listeners wanted to know her perception of living conditions and the Martian environment. I asked if spacesuits would be used and if she did any rough camping, backpacking, etc. as a kid that might have helped her prepare her for tough living conditions on Mars. The MIT Study came up and was discussed as well as growth for the Mars One settlement coming either from Earth, the settlers, or both. She said there would be no childbirth for years as it was not safe so for the time being, the settlement would be growing by subsequent Mars One missions. Doug called to make the case for going to the Moon first. Sonia explained to him that she had no opportunities for going to the Moon though she would take them if offered. The only opportunity she had was Mars One. Sonia was looking at the picture from the vantage point of her own objectives while Doug had the big picture of lunar return and development in mind.

In the second segment, Bill from Virginia asked if Bas or other Mars One executives were planning to go on the mission to Mars. Don’t miss her answer. Todd wanted to know about a possible rescue mission and Andrew sent in a note about Mars One simulations & developing the infrastructure to live off world. I asked our guest if she had factored in launch risks & Randy in Boston asked if she had done a cost benefit analysis on the value of the mission versus the costs of it. Sonia said the educational outreach PR was a large part of the value for her. Privacy issues came up plus she was asked if Mars One went to a moon of Mars would she be disappointed. Don’t miss her answer to this question. Near the end of the show, I asked Sonia for her thoughts should American government regulations make her Mars One trip impossible. I also asked if she had considered or would consider pre-emptive surgery to have her appendix or gall bladder removed before going to Mars. Kris in Denver wanted to know if Mars one went under and the people on Mars were stranded, was it the responsibility of nations and their public sectors to attempt a rescue mission for the stranded “Martians.” Sonia was asked if she would be OK with nuclear propulsion if it shortened her transit time to Mars and then at the end, I asked her about planetary protection and the limits on landing humans on Mars. I directed her to the NASA Office of Planetary Protection for more information.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above. You can reach Sonia through me using drspace@thespaceshow.com.


1. J Fincannon - April 24, 2015

#1: U.S. Regulation of Actions of U.S. citizens: David brought up the point to Sonia about how such U.S. regulations could forbid her from going to Mars, which she felt acceptable, but she apparently did not consider relinquishing her citizenship to follow her dream.

#2: Re: Planetary Protection: U.S. regulators have spent a lot of effort to protect endangered terrestrial species (although microorganisms don’t seem on the list). Given that Mars scientists cannot EVER know if there are currently existing Mars life forms (near the surface or deep below… over the entire Mars surface without going to each spot and testing), it is unclear how any humans can ever be on Mars without the risk of polluting the Martian ecology. Of course, if any are ever found, this places Mars in quarantine. David implied that it is up to Mars scientists to determine definitively that there is no life on Mars allowing humans to land. I wonder how this is determined, by consensus?

2. Mark - April 13, 2015

Totally agree

3. lunarush - April 13, 2015

Mars One:

Without adult supervision a bunch of 5th Graders, who have been at a neighborhood slumber party once, are planning a 6 month Antarctic Winter expedition & will pay for it with a bake sale! What could possibly go wrong??

A “political consultant” not “comfortable” with self-deprivation is so useful as one of only 4 crew members to help in the desperate survival situation upon landing – NOT!

The general public did not believe the Wright Brothers’ claim of powered manned flight in 1903 because of the many Mars One type powered manned flight scams popular at the time. This hindered the powered manned flight industry for many years.

Mars One is a cancer which serves mostly to discredit the entire New Space community. It should be exposed & eliminated as quickly as possible.

B John - April 14, 2015

Well, the Mars One applicants are adult. And Sonia is candidating to become a crew member, not a rocket scientist. I think most airline passengers don’t even know how many engines their aircraft has, because its not their job. So please direct your criticism to the appropriate address.

It is rational to use random numbers for budget and schedule and mission design. There are so many planned Mars missions around which will never fly, so it would just be wasteful to spend any effort on investigating what a realistic mission design would have to look like. Robert Zubrin is an example of a brilliant guy who has wasted his career on that for nothing. So don’t be distracted about the numbers. Mars One was never intended to fly. It is a publicity stunt about a dream. And I think that the enthusiasm for space flight which Mars One has contributed to is great! And Sonia seems to be quite productive in this effort.

Have you heard about Dr. Lars Vilks? He is now producing a kind of installation art which consists of himself being targeted by terrorists after having named a toy dog Muhammed. It’s ingenious! It illustrates how some people don’t understand that the prophet Muhammed actually wasn’t a dog, even if there exists a toy dog which someone calls Muhammed. I consider Mars One to be a similar kind of art project. Humans can’t go to Mars in the way Mars One proposes. It is all about how people react to the proposition.

lunarush - April 14, 2015

“Sonia is candidating to become a crew member, not a rocket scientist.”

There are no “passengers” on a Mars mission using current technology. Mars One is not a cruise to the islands with no danger. For any Mars One type mission, crew members NOT rocket scientists are a danger & liability.

“It is rational to use random numbers for budget and schedule and mission design.” NO – it is not.

The Mars One promoters pretend to offer a trip to Mars. All familiar with the real practicalities, physics of a trip to Mars & human survival on Mars using current technology know next none of these are seriously addressed by Mars One. Pretending otherwise is a sign of the scam.

Space scams/publicity stunts disguised as something real discredit the entire New Space community. Expose & eliminate as quickly as possible.

Matt - April 14, 2015

“Mars One is a cancer which serves mostly to discredit the entire New Space community. ”

I agree totally.


B John - April 14, 2015

So you would prefer it if Sonia was a Moon landing hoaxer?

Kirk - April 14, 2015

Do you really believe that your New Space community is fragile enough to be dealt a blow by the dreamers of Mars One? Isn’t that equivalent to saying that your 5th graders’ Antarctic expedition bake sale will somehow limit funds available to some company developing Arctic exploitation technology?

lunarush - April 14, 2015

The New Space community focuses on “boring” (to mass media types) science, engineering, economics & hard work with almost no Splashy, Sensational oriented Media. Mars One focuses on Splashy, Sensational oriented Media with almost no science, engineering, economics or hard work.

Mars One gets more media attention than the rest of the New Space community combined therefore is very visible to the general public. So yes, the New Space Community CAN “be dealt a blow by the dreamers of Mars One”. The inevitable, messy collapse of the Mars One scam will tarnish the entire New Space community.

It should be exposed & eliminated as quickly as possible to minimize the damage.

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