Journey to Mars: Astronaut Bioethics of Colonization A Presentation By Rafael Lopez Missions To Mars NASA is planning manned missions to mars in hopes to conduct more research of the red planet Mars One, a private company, is planning missions with similar goals as NASA Missions But human enhancements raise all sorts of ethical worries in normal Earth contexts, such as safety to the human subject, fairness, reversibility, and unintended effects. Those bioethical challenges are just the beginning. and an M.Phil. Disaster can happen at any moment in space exploration. In 2025, suppose you are the captain of a spaceship bringing four crewmembers to the red planet. You could be a child born in space, deformed by space radiation and microgravity during fetal development, then raised apart from the rest of humanity. Jacob M. Appel is a bioethicist and fiction writer. Real-time interaction with friends and family back on Earth will be impossible: The shortest delay for sending transmissions would be approximately 10 minutes. In the event of alien contamination, even if a remote possibility, we need to think about the quarantine of astronauts. Justice is the moral value most pertinent to health policy, given large public investments in creating our health care system. from Columbia University, an M.D. Unless one person stops breathing immediately, all four will asphyxiate before landing. And the results may have implications for other BFOQs on Earth, so we need to think carefully here. Search the entire Bioethics site by typing in your keywords below. I turned 36 almost a week ago and for some reason, this birthday prompted me to reflect on the scarcity of time. Would this spell disaster for the long-term survival of the colony, as well as for the well-being of the children themselves? and an M.A. Astronaut Bioethics-NASA & Mars One, will work together to put 4 Astronauts in But exploding in space isn’t the worst thing that could happen. To make things worse, the astronauts would lack physical privacy for the rest of their lives in a tiny habitat on Mars. Those astronauts will be subject to the whims of solar and dust storms, meteorite strikes, physical injury, possible alien contamination, and the other barely glimpsed hazards of Martian living. The astronaut corps is a unique employee population. Suppose a sick astronaut on a private spaceflight wants to return to Earth: Who would have the authority to forcibly stop her, even if we could? Herewith is a sort of Astronaut Bioethics 101. But legal disputes and crimes could crop up while in space, giving us good reason to export law enforcement, courts, and other state institutions off-planet. But how do we decide which laws and institutions are needed on Mars in the first place, and who gets to decide? To make things worse, for the duration of their lives, the Mars One participants would know direct interaction only with their fellow settlers who, even if all goes well, would increase from only three people in the first two years to 23 others after 10 years. The latest publication to exploit this is The Economist, which just ran a feature about him called “Welcome to my genome” that includes some of Church’s predictions for human genetic modification:. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker. Inspiration Mars Foundation, a competitor of Mars One, has an interesting way to account for the pesky human sex-drive on long missions: The company is recruiting older married couples to ensure stability in the relationship and to avoid the ethical problems with having babies in space. (We’ll return to this in a moment.). But to where no human has gone before, we can go boldly but also thoughtfully. Mars. Indeed, many nations have already agreed to be bound by the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Agreement, though neither regulates the behavior of individual astronauts, only the signatory states. NASA’s Office of Planetary Protection has protocols in place, but private businesses, such as Mars One, aren’t legally obligated to follow them. It recognizes that the problems of sex begin with interpersonal dynamics among the crew. Speaking of nonhuman life, one of the most exciting aspects of space exploration—and a main focus of NASA—is the search for alien life. Previous spacecraft were already sent to build a basic habitat and food supply, and now your ship is only five days away from landing and joining a few others already there. The habitation modules of Mars One will be a fragile oasis of water and oxygen on an otherwise desolate and profoundly inhospitable Martian soil, where temperatures average around minus 67 degrees Fahrenheit. That kind of conversation for space missions should be made more explicit and transparent, if they want exemption from the democratic value of nondiscrimination. Thus, with the possibility of space exploration, we have a clean slate in front of us to reinvent society, without being bogged down by legacy systems for property, economics, governance, and even ethics. But this is still a challenge in Antarctica and other remote parts of our home planet. Astronaut bioethics (of colonizing Mars) Brain-to-brain interfaces; Enhanced pathogens; Non-lethal weapons; Real-time satellite surveillance; Resilient social-ecological systems; Robot swarms; State-sponsored hacktivism and ‘soft war’ Wearable technology; 2016 List. The followers of the International Raëlian Movement believe in an advanced species of extraterrestrial aliens called Elohim who created life on Earth. As the captain of the ship, what should you do? We probably don’t want it to devolve into a Martian Lord of the Flies or nationalistic land grabs that have been the source of wars here on Earth. Astronaut bioethics (of colonizing Mars) Plans for long-term space missions to Mars and for its colonization are already underway. For instance, Mars One is still sorting through thousands of applications to be the first residents on Mars—and reality television show stars—with the first batch scheduled to blast off in 2023. One of the activities Martian colonists will likely engage in is the search for Martian microbes, in the hope that we will find a second source of life in the universe. Outer space and the future of humanity don’t belong to any one nation-state but to all of us. They’re infamous for squabbling in confined spaces for months on end, and more than half of marriages in the United States end in divorce. You could suffocate or be stranded on the moon—a slow death. Eventually, every colony will want its independence, history suggests. To read more, visit the Future Tense blog and the Future Tense home page. Moreover, even if astronauts are able to survive several year missions to Mars, their performance and effectivity may be expected to decline (Ade et al. As if that wasn't enough, Dr. Wolpe is also the co-editor of the world's premier journal of bioethics, the American Journal of Bioethics, and he sits on the editorial boards of over a dozen professional journals in medicine and ethics. The best-case scenario for those astronauts is still a constantly stressful existence within a tiny community of fellow settlers. Crisis planning is neither unreasonable nor unprecedented in space or anywhere else. Ethics for Astronauts: en: dc.provenance: Citation prepared by the Library and Information Services group of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University for the ETHXWeb database. There may be very good reasons for it, such as to ensure humanity’s survival in the event of a killer asteroid or other existential risks. Yet many plans for space exploration already take it as a foregone conclusion that humans will reproduce in space. Should you make sure at least one male and one female survive, so future procreation is possible—and does it have to be a couple? Astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars when he is impaled by a metal rod in the middle of a sudden and violent storm. As a Netherlands-based mission, Mars One would be subject to at least Dutch anti-discrimination laws, which are similar to the Americans With Disabilities Act and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act in the United States. But NASA’s studies of psychological problems during missions on the International Space Station, or even on pseudo-Mars habitats in the Arctic, do not begin to match the reality of the problems posed by a six-month or longer mission to Mars. Those bioethical challenges are just the beginning. This kind of scenario could become all too real in the near future. But the reasons behind the discrimination against women in the military turned out to be weak. It will also be critical to account for mental health and resiliency on long missions. Suppose a sick astronaut on a private spaceflight wants to return to Earth: Who would have the authority to forcibly stop her, even if we could? Buy Colonizing Mars: Astronaut Bioethics essay paper online; Why Ethical Dilemma Is Unresolved and What Is the Potential Solution; Conclusion; Related Free Ethics Essays; Science is full of intrigues. Each provides what the person needs to exercise her vital metabolic capacities; but the lack of such support does not entail that she lacks those capacities. As a Netherlands-based mission, Mars One would be subject to at least Dutch anti-discrimination laws, which are similar to the Americans With Disabilities Act and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act in the United States. We need to establish rules and protocols, including risk-assessment criteria, before we blast off for Mars. But in most contexts, it’s illegal to reject job candidates because they are disabled or have predispositions toward some health conditions. Others may be very useful for purposes beyond reproduction: a greater ability to breathe at lower partial pressures, to resist space radiation, to survive with little sleep or food, or to think faster and more clearly in stressful situations. Death is inescapable before too long, and each one needs to be investigated to rule out homicide. Martian Sex: Astronaut Bioethics & Vsauce on Spacebabies As Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s 100-Year Starship Mission, Inspiration Mars Foundation, Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries, and many other private and public space programs make their grand plans, we need to think carefully about not only the physical risks of space exploration but also legal and ethical risks. Astronaut bioethics (of colonising Mars) Plans for long-term space missions to and the colonization of Mars are already underway. A manned-Mars mission would take require astronauts being in space for more than a year. Again, the physical and psychological dangers of procreating and living outside of Earth can seem inhumane, especially for involuntary subjects (the children). Yet many plans for space exploration already take it as a foregone conclusion that humans will reproduce in space. You could be a child born in space, deformed by space radiation and microgravity during fetal development, then raised apart from the rest of humanity. Introduction to Astronaut Bioethics. Posts on health, bioethics, and the practice of medicine. Lifeboat ethics in space. Even a pandemic in the colony? NASA and robotic astronauts. It will also be critical to account for mental health and resiliency on long missions. What about the scientist who hopes to make fundamental discoveries, perhaps even alien life? But the BFOQ must be defensible. But the possibility of long missions means that other social dynamics and future generations become relevant now. T he Color Red has a rich visual spectrum, a complex and intriguing symbolic meaning. Erik L. Antonsen, PhD, MD is an attending physician and assistant professor of emergency medicine and space medicine at … They’re infamous for squabbling in confined spaces for months on end, and more than half of marriages in the United States end in divorce. If the search for alien life on Mars fails, we will surely one day search for it in the oceans of Europa or Ganymede, or the petrochemical seas of Titan and so on, until we find that we are not alone in the universe. The best-case scenario for those astronauts is still a constantly stressful existence within a tiny community of fellow settlers. But something has gone terribly wrong: Micrometeorites have pierced the hull and caused a slow leak. All rights reserved. You could suffocate or be stranded on the moon—a slow death. Bioethics frameworks can help us here, as we start to hit upon questions about informed consent and acceptable risk—a subject deserving of its own article. Space agencies haven’t had to deal with it much so far, though astronauts think about sex, and it occasionally gets them in trouble, too. As Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s 100-Year Starship Mission, Inspiration Mars Foundation, Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries, and many other private and public space programs make their grand plans, we need to think carefully about not only the physical risks of space exploration but also legal and ethical risks. ... She has more than 20 years' experience in space policy, human spaceflight operations, and bioethics; Erik L. Antonsen, PhD, MD is an attending physician and assistant professor of emergency medicine and space medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. But we won’t even be able to carry out research to get an idea of what that would mean: It’s difficult to imagine that any institutional research board would allow anyone to risk that, and so far there’s no clear and present danger—such as a killer asteroid that may wipe out humanity—that justifies such an extreme experiment. None of these challenges is meant to speak against the project of space exploration. Would the children experience a real-life version of The Truman Show?) And, in a paper in Bioethics, he puts forth a human rights-based approach to assessing which circumstances are right. Could zero-gravity or increased radiation environment cause unpredictable changes in our gut bacteria, perhaps even ones resulting in lethal disease? By joining Slate Plus you support our work and get exclusive content. But to where no human has gone before, we can go boldly but also thoughtfully. bioethics is continually thrust back into the service. After all, U.S. federal laws and regulations, such as from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, don’t reach into outer space, even if they bind NASA workers while on the ground. from Columbia University, an M.D. Or should you just draw straws? To mitigate some of these problems, Mars One and others are conducting physical and psychological screening of astronauts. This article by Susan Saulny in the New York Times over the weekend notes the limited visibility of embryonic stem cell research as a campaign issue in the Missouri Senate race, where incumbent Republican Jim Talent clearly opposes it and Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill clearly supports it. Those astronauts will be subject to the whims of solar and dust storms, meteorite strikes, physical injury, possible alien contamination, and the other barely glimpsed hazards of Martian living. Labor laws prohibit recruiting only older married heterosexual couples in just about every known case, as they bar discrimination on the basis of age, gender, sexual orientation, and other differences. Besides the astronaut’s lives being at risk physically, there is also a possibility of psychological issues. Space agencies have long been focused on the health and safety of their astronauts themselves, and experts are looking at the ethics of finding extraterrestrial life or astrobiology. But is it even ethical to recruit astronauts for a one-way trip—essentially a suicide mission? Raëlian beliefs and practices are the concepts and principles of Raëlism, a new religious movement and UFO religion founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon, a former French auto racing journalist who changed his name to "Raël". President Nixon had a speech ready for that disaster, written by William Safire: “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace. Given the dangers and severely limited resources, including medical, what should astronauts do if they need to choose between the lives of their fellow astronauts, a so-called lifeboat decision? In 2025, suppose you are the captain of a spaceship bringing four crewmembers to the red planet. That kind of conversation for space missions should be made more explicit and transparent, if they want exemption from the democratic value of nondiscrimination. To ward that off, could it be ethical to demand sterilization for any potentially fertile astronauts in a mixed-sex crew? It’s at least worth investigating. For Martian settlers, that independence may exist de facto from the very start, so perhaps all bets really are off where authorities can’t reach. and an M.A. As Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s 100-Year Starship Mission, Inspiration Mars Foundation, Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries, and many other private and public space programs make their grand plans, we need to think carefully about not only the physical risks of space exploration but also legal and ethical risks. Major psychological challenges that are impossible to fully prepare for on Earth would include unprecedented social isolation. Should you make sure at least one male and one female survive, so future procreation is possible—and does it have to be a couple? One possible objection is that many or all of these private space programs are building an all-volunteer cadre of unpaid adventurers, so they aren’t employers in the usual sense and therefore shouldn’t be subject to labor laws. They’ll be stuck on Mars. Back to the issue of sex and reproduction: Could Inspiration Mars Foundation’s astronaut-selection strategy be illegal? October 7, 2014 () – As Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s 100-Year Starship Mission, Inspiration Mars Foundation, Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries, and many other private and public space programs make their grand plans, we need to think carefully about not only the physical risks of space exploration but also legal and ethical risks Real-time interaction with friends and family back on Earth will be impossible: The shortest delay for sending transmissions would be approximately 10 minutes. This is a question best answered in advanced and not during the panic of the moment, when our judgment may be compromised. But the possibility of long missions means that other social dynamics and future generations become relevant now. Should the doctor be killed, risking the future lives of the colonists? Likewise, the space industry could find itself subject to this ethically strict framework and others that haven’t been discussed much. But the reasons behind the discrimination against women in the military turned out to be weak. Radiation exposure may eventually take care of the issue by causing infertility, but some pregnancies could happen before infertility occurs. We don’t know, since it would seem patently unethical to even conduct these sorts of experiments today in space or anywhere else, at least with human subjects. Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. Given the dangers and severely limited resources, including medical, what should astronauts do if they need to choose between the lives of their fellow astronauts, a so-called lifeboat decision? We need to establish rules and protocols, including risk-assessment criteria, before we blast off for Mars. 2. Introduction to Astronaut Bioethics. Major psychological challenges that are impossible to fully prepare for on Earth would include unprecedented social isolation. Other related ethical issues with sex include the possibility of rape: Should abortions be allowed in outer space—and how should crimes be handled? For that matter, how can we know for certain whether an astronaut is infected before it’s too late? But what if they never made it back? Primate studies indicate that being raised in captivity has harmful effects on the development of young apes, including experiencing abnormally high fear and a reduced desire for exploration—exactly the wrong traits for success as colonists on a hostile planet. But is it even ethical to recruit astronauts for a one-way trip—essentially a suicide mission? In those travels, we encounter truly novel circumstances—destinations more impossible to return from than even for Christopher Columbus sailing off to the New World. Introduction to Astronaut Bioethics Reproducing in space, lifeboat problems, and other ethical quandaries that could arise if we travel to Mars. NASA and robotic astronauts. The other area of bioethics that I am interested in would be the medical testing and last shot experimentation for new treatments in terminal patients. We can perhaps understand why a paraplegic person wouldn’t be an ideal astronaut, but what about a fully healthy person whose family has a history of cancer or depression? The microbiome is increasingly understood to have crucial effects on our health, yet the effect of long-term spaceflight on it is largely unknown. Being an adventurer or scientist doesn’t exempt you from labor laws, for instance. It turns out that only 1 in 10 cells in our body is actually Homo sapiens genetically, and the rest make up the flora known as a microbiome inside every one of us. Every astronaut who goes into space is, essentially, a human research subject. For instance, Mars One is still sorting through thousands of applications to be the first residents on Mars—and reality television show stars—with the first batch scheduled to blast off in 2023. But that won’t hold true for would-be mixed crews headed to Mars, especially missions planning colonization. He means what he says, and expresses it succinctly and vividly. If we send heterosexual astronauts, of different sexes and of reproductive age, on extended space missions, then the possibility of pregnancy looms. Thatmeans astronauts will be in deep space for more than a year withpotentiallylife-threatening consequences. Outer space and the future of humanity don’t belong to any one nation-state but to all of us. “A good rule for rocket experimenters to follow is this: always assume that it will explode,” the editors of the journal Astronautics wrote in 1937, and nothing has changed: This August, SpaceX’s rocket blew up on a test flight. Currently, there isn't enough research to know what long-term deep space travel would do to astronaut health. Primate studies indicate that being raised in captivity has harmful effects on the development of young apes, including experiencing abnormally high fear and a reduced desire for exploration—exactly the wrong traits for success as colonists on a hostile planet. … For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.”. In 2025, suppose you are the captain of a spaceship bringing four crewmembers to the red planet. If you wait even one day before sacrificing a crew member, then at most two members could survive. In China the color red is a good omen, it is the traditional color of Good Fortune and Love. Given plans now for long missions, we need to confront the issue as well as the usual things related to it, such as babies. bioethics is continually thrust back into the service. He holds a B.A. What about human enhancements? For example, until last year, U.S. policy presumed that women are unfit for combat roles in the military. After all, U.S. federal laws and regulations, such as from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, don’t reach into outer space, even if they bind NASA workers while on the ground. Is that really better than sending only men, or only women, or unmarried crew members into space? There may be very good reasons for it, such as to ensure humanity’s survival in the event of a killer asteroid or other existential risks. Could zero-gravity or increased radiation environment cause unpredictable changes in our gut bacteria, perhaps even ones resulting in lethal disease? This kind of scenario could become all too real in the near future. ©2009—2021 Bioethics Research Library Box 571212 Washington DC 20057-1212 202.687.3885 Or should you just draw straws? But why married couples? Radius of 6,371; 1 year is 365 ; Surface is 70% water To ward that off, could it be ethical to demand sterilization for any potentially fertile astronauts in a mixed-sex crew? If an AI is part of the crew, we might need to also test the computers, lest it get inspired by HAL and think the puny humans are getting in the way—after all, it might decide that the mission is too important to let you people jeopardize it. Martian Sex: Astronaut Bioethics & Vsauce on Spacebabies As Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s 100-Year Starship Mission, Inspiration Mars Foundation, Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries, and many other private and public space programs make their grand plans, we need to think carefully about not only the physical risks of space exploration but also legal and ethical risks. There’s also the related problem of confinement. from Brown University, an M.A. Photo by NASA via Getty Images. One crisis the all-male crews of the Apollo program never had to worry about was the possibility of a pregnancy in space. Governmental astronauts are carefully screened with psychological tests, since conditions such as suicidal ideation and sociopathy might cause trouble in space. If you wait even one day before sacrificing a crew member, then at most two members could survive. To make things worse, the astronauts would lack physical privacy for the rest of their lives in a tiny habitat on Mars. Where the Apollo and other historical missions were run by governments under a cloak of secrecy, the privatization—the democratization—of space today means that we now have a responsibility to open the policy and ethics discussion to the global community. Have implications for other BFOQs on Earth for labor laws to apply of long missions s strategy... 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