In October, an international cohort of thinkers beamed into the virtual 2021 conference of the Mars Society, which has advocated colonizing the planet since 1998.
In an age of low-cost rocket launches and Shatner space jaunts, it was a sign of how attainable the possibility of reaching Mars suddenly seems that the discussions were often about mundane logistics. How would criminals be jailed? What would safe sex mean in a low-gravity, low-oxygen environment? Should Mars have a Catholic diocese?
For many people, putting boots on the dusty Martian soil, or regolith, feels closer than ever, or at least as close as something requiring a six-month, 140 million-mile flight can. Both NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX have said they’re aiming for a human touchdown on Mars within the next two decades. That’s led a growing group of urban planners, architects, designers, astrophysicists, entrepreneurs, and philosophers to start rolling out renderings of what Martian cities and homes could be like.
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