'I'm willing to leave my wife to move to Mars': a talk with the founder of the Mars meetup group
Marriages break up all the time. Space is rarely why.
Marriages break up over all kinds of things: money, infidelity, slobbishness.
Dan Gallegos, happily married, would bust up his 22 year marriage just to go on a trip.
But not just any vacation: a one-way voyage to Mars.
Gallegos is one of tens of thousands of regular people fixated on getting to the red planet. And if he were offered the chance to move to Mars, without possibility of coming back, he'd say to his wife, Lee: seeya!
The thing is, he hasn't told her this yet.
And he knows what'd happen: "As soon as I told her, she'd probably take all my clothes and put them in the yard and light them on fire."
But what can you do? Mars fever is gripping the nation, with plans circulating through NASA, a private group called Mars One more active than ever, pictures from satellites sailing back daily, and our modern mechanical magician Elon Musk making colonizing Mars his mission.
Settling Mars will be hard. Mars's average temperature is minus 81 degrees fahrenheit, and the atmosphere is thin and un-breathable.
But Mars is the next frontier, the modern West, a way to boldly go where no one has gone before. And, as we continue to muck up this planet, Mars could be humanity's backup plan.
And enthusiasts say we're just 10 years and $5 or $20 billion away. The Mars One project got 200,000 applicants for their mission. Musk, with his SpaceX Mars mission, suggests that a ticket to Mars might eventually cost only as much as an average house. Just this fall, Musk introduced the first guy slated to fly around the moon on a SpaceX rocket.
All that got folks like Gallegos stoked, even though Gallegos, a 50-something engineer from Lafayette, Colorado, isn't an astronaut. He isn't a jet pilot. He's probably way down the list for potential Mars settlers.
But he's doing what he can. He eads constantly about Mars, is active in the Mars Society. And five years ago Gallegos started a "Move to Mars" Meetup group, where folks dreamed about the role they'd play in colonizing the solar system. Gallegos feels like he'd act as engineer, gardener, and movie archivists. You have to Netflix and chill in space.
For him, moving to Mars would be helping move humanity forward.
And after his marriage breaks up, could he find a wife on Mars?
"Hopefully several," Gallegos says, laughing. How would he find her? "On the way there," a two to eight month journey, "we'd hopefully have the first orgy in weightlessness."
Love finds a way. And if he's lucky, Gallegos will look back at the fading Earth and spot the light coming from his home — of his wife burning all his other stuff.