Alibi V.24 No.20 • May 14-20, 2015 

Feature Interview

Mars Ain’t the Kind of Place to Raise Your Kids

Part two of our interview with prospective Martian Zachary Gallegos

Zachary Gallegos
It takes a certain kind of person to be willing to leave everything they've ever known and “boldly go where no man has gone before.” According to press materials, the Mars One mission—a privately funded one-way trip to the Red Planet planned to launch in 2024—received over 200,000 applicants. The mission is designed to determine whether the fourth planet from the sun can sustain life. Mars One finalist and New Mexico native Zachary Gallegos is that type of person. Now in the final 100, Gallegos gears up for the final round of selection in the first manned mission to Mars. In this second part (see part one here) of our interview, the Alibi followed up with him to talk about his fears, inspirations and, more importantly, sex on Mars.

What's your biggest fear about this mission?

My biggest fear about the mission is not being selected. But my biggest fear of being on Mars and living there is actually having said goodbye to the Earth forever. I've had dreams where I'm in this white spaceship, this little capsule just floating around, and I look out the window, and it's space, and I'm like, “Well, I guess I did it.” The cool thing though is, I'll get to have my own going-away party. I get to give my own eulogy.

The thing is—and this is a big misconception that's been going on in the media—is that you can have all the sex you want on Mars. You just can't have children.

How do you feel about the no-sex-on-Mars rule?

The thing is—and this is a big misconception that's been going on in the media—is that you can have all the sex you want on Mars. You just can't have children.

Isn't there a little part of you that wants to father the first Martian?

Oh yeah. But I would never say that seriously, yet. Right now, that would be unethical. You don't want to raise a child on a planet with 16 other people. That could be so bad for them. And weird. The other thing is that you don’t want to jeopardize the health of the women, and childbirth can be very dangerous without proper medical facilities. And you wouldn't want one of your crew mates dying.

Do you have a bucket list, things that you want to do or experience or accomplish before you go?

I want to open a brewery; I'm going to invent a bunch of things; I'm going to be a professional golfer. ... I can hit the shit out of a golf ball.

Do you think you'll be able to play golf on Mars?

Oh yeah! I even talked about it with Norbert Kraft [Chief Medical Officer for the Mars One mission]. This last round I [did] an interview with him, and he asked me, “What makes you qualified to go to Mars?” I said, “I'm a very calm, patient, courteous person because I grew up playing golf, and on the golf course, you have to be all of those things. Playing competition golf, there's a level of pressure [that's] very high. You have to be focused and always be on top of your game.” He was like, “Oh yeah? It's going to be fun to play golf on Mars, isn't it?” So it will be continuing on with the tradition of Alan Shepard who played golf on the moon.

Do you believe in aliens?

Yes. I can't really take anyone seriously who says there are no aliens. It's just so unfathomably improbable for us to be the only life forms in the universe, and it's egotistical for anyone to think that we're all that's there. The thing about it is that there's different levels of alien life. Some of which, in fact, could be in our solar system, like microbes, fish under the oceans of the Jovian moons, things like that. Green men? I've never seen one. Doesn't mean they're not already here. Doesn't mean they're not going to come and teach us their ways or eat us. They're definitely out there. So I'm looking forward to meeting an alien.

What are the personal motivations—science and humanity aside—that are fueling your desire to go?

Aside from saving the world, this is like, the coolest fucking thing that I could ever think of doing with my life. I can't think of anything better. I could stay here for a long time and grow old and all those kinds of things, which do sound nice, but unless I could become the President of Earth or something, this is the coolest thing that I could think of.

Let's be really honest for a second; are you really doing this to avoid paying taxes?

I'm doing this to avoid wearing a tie. That's why I'm a geologist also.

Are you religious at all? If you are religious, did that affect your decision to apply?

I am not religious. That doesn't mean that I'm not spiritual. I definitely believe in things, but I am not someone to be in an organized religion. I see where they have value in some people’s lives and even in history, but it doesn’t have any value for me. I'm perfectly fine without it. My lack of organized religion definitely fueled my love for science.

What do your parents think about all this?

They don't like it. Well, they like it in the fact that they know it's good for other things in my life. They don't want me to go to Mars though. They want me to go to the moon.

Have you used your status as a Mars One candidate to pick up chicks?

[Laughs] My friends do that for me. I have never ever used that. I've definitely had longer conversations because of this. But I've run into issues with girls because of this mission.

Are you jealous of future humans who will have the opportunity to die on the other side of the asteroid belt?

Yeah. I say that I was either born 10,000 years too early or too late. That's what I used to say. Now I'm kind of exactly where I'm supposed to be. But I really just want to travel the stars and see crazy shit that no one's ever thought about. ... One of my motivations for going to Mars is to discover things and view things for the first time.

Do you believe that this mission will actually happen? Is there a possibility of this falling through?

Nothing is 100 percent. I've come to realize and appreciate that. I know that lots of people don't believe in this. Everyone's a skeptic. The thing is, this mission is the responsibility of everyone on Earth. It's up to us if we want it to happen because it's crowdfunded, and it's done by sponsorships and investors. So if we want it to happen, it will happen.