So here's my plan.
People are all excited right now about the new homes that are due to be sent up and tested on the International Space Station. Rather than the clunky metal boxes that astronauts live in now, the idea is to send inflatable rooms that you can squeeze into 7-foot tubes. They're cheaper and easier to deliver, and it's a very clever idea.
It is also a closet-sized bouncy castle sent from the private sector. Bigelow Aerospace, the company behind the inflatable cabins, are already talking about selling "stand-alone space homes," because NASA is never going to have quite enough of that sexy Business2Business action. Everyone's looking at the private spacelaunch companies, and indulging in a dream of enterprise where space miners in self-sustaining stations pluck platinum and yttrium from asteroids and send them back to Earth for great riches. Someone's got to sell the tents to the prospectors, right? The super-rich will want their own rooms on Holiday Space Stations, right?
Living in a space station would be like being trapped in a small plane run by your least favorite airline for several weeks. Think about that. Think about the point where you're basically just breathing other people's farts. While your bones are rotting. And if anything at all bumps up hard against the window, you'll die. And by "die," I mean: "Your body fluids would boil but your vaporised juices would immediately freeze while your skin and internal organs distended horribly."
Now, our American cousins have been having great fun petitioning the US Government for stuff like building a Death Star. Which is good thinking, but a little early. No. I would like to see a petition for the Bouncy Castle Water Bear Invasion of Mars.
Take a bunch of these Bigelow Bubbles up to space, along with their payloads. Said payloads are things like extremophiles, the weird muck that survives in pretty much anything. Dark lichen, or tardigrades, those weird little radiation-proof beasties better known as "water bears." Stuff the bubbles with them and fire the buggers at Mars. Loads of them. Batches of 50. Inflatable heat shields will get the payloads through and shred the bubbles on release, scattering the contents. Water bears can go ten years without water.
A mass covering of black moss would warm Mars up enough to start the release of water. There may well be microbial life forms on Mars, yes. We may be polluting a pristine alien environment. But I say that, if they're there, let them fight for it. Let them go to war with the mighty water bears of Earth. I don't care any more. Space stations are crap. I want a castle on Mars.
And I want someone else to build it. I want to send reality TV contestants to Mars. There's a Dutch team that wants to do this, so please give them your support too. They'll have fuck all to do on Mars beyond developing radiation poisoning and learning to enjoy the taste of lichen that water bears have shat on, so they may as well get busy and build me a castle.
At which point I will title myself Baron Mars, declare it as my primary residence for tax purposes, have some kind of cape and helmet designed, shag anyone who responds to my “Space Mistress Required” profile on OKCupid, genetically engineer a giant water bear to ride around on, and mail a dead toad to Newt Gingrich. As far as plans go, it’s a cracker, isn’t it?
Illustration by Marta Parszeniew.