I have recently been interviewed by many media outlets and the one particular topic that has been the focus of press is giving being pregnant on Mars.
I wanted to clear some things up. Firstly it is not my intention to go to Mars to breed, that is not the reason I applied. I am a scientist, research and knowledge is my passion. That is the reason I want to go to Mars. I am more than just a human vessel/lab experiment. However Mars is a one way journey. It is pretty much inevitable that eventually one of us will become pregnant (well unless MarsOne decides to castrate all the men, although I don’t think that would go down so well). Especially if we want to start a colony, reproduction is a key subject to be discussed.
There is a lack of research on everything from insemination to pregnancy to giving birth in low gravity environment. So the dangers involving such are unknown. What’s more the issue of the ethics of knowingly doing so is debatable. Personally I think that raising a child on Mars is no different than that on Earth. In poverty areas of rural Africa, women face huge risks of death during child birth. Knowingly so they still give birth to children, that are raised with no access to hygiene, food, water or education. Yes giving birth on Mars could be dangerous but there is no research to say for certain. Yes the children of Mars will be in a confined space, however they won’t know any better. What’s more they will be growing up with some of the most intelligent people of Earth, they will be eating healthy foods (grown on mars as opposed to all the junk food we have access to on Earth) and they will have a largely unexplored terrain as their back garden. I couldn’t think of anything better.
Of course being the mother of the first martian would be a privilege, I would never be so stupid as to race for the title. My priority is the research. The first few years on Mars would not be a good environment for a child. There is a lot to be built and set up and the habitat would need expansion. If we were to rely solely on the food resources grown on Mars then the nutrients available probably not be adequate for a child. In my opinion Mars will only become a suitable environment for a child after the colony settles, which would be many years after the first crew land.