By Canadian Contractor
Paul Lafrance on Martian living (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)Canadian Contractor
Dusty, cold, and desolate? Don’t believe what you’ve heard about the Red Planet!
We hope you enjoyed this April Fool’s story for 2019!
For the past several years, Paul Lafrance has been working with NASA to develop comfortable living and entertainment spaces for future human habitation on Mars. Canadian Contractor was granted an exclusive interview with Paul, and developed a new understanding of the potential and pleasures of a 700 day year and low gravity.
Mars represents a blank canvas for you, Paul — vast expanses, long seasons. Where do you begin to tackle the immense scope from a conceptual standpoint?
First and foremost it’s important for people to realize that there are a lot of myths about Mars. The planet Mars deserves a fair shake. People need to look at the Red Planet differently than what they’ve been led to believe.
Are you saying we’ve been misled all these years? Give us an example.
One of the myths is this whole thing about not being able to breathe on Mars. The only reason people say that is because anyone who’s actually tried to breathe on Mars has died. However, it’s been proven before, like on Total Recall, that it’s all propaganda. Sure, people are always afraid of breathing in a toxic atmosphere and dying. However, I just wish people would stop being so hung up on it.
Maybe we simply need to adapt. I mean, we do get kind of sloppy and lazy with our nice atmosphere on Earth, don’t we?
According to the laws of evolution, fish crawled out of the oceans and grew feet. I’m quite sure we can do more or less the same.
It may be fake news, but Mars does appear to be a dusty, desolate place. However, there is some variety isn’t there, like mountains and canyons. Are you directing NASA towards human habitation in any particular setting?
When we first built on Mars several years ago, the settlements were in the dusty plains. Getting sand constantly in your eyes may be very character-building, however it dries the tear ducts. As a result there’s no crying on Mars, just like there’s no crying in baseball. But as things have evolved and as trends come and go, the current happening hot spot on Mars is on Olympus Mons, the highest mountain in the solar system. The view is quite stunning up there. But there’s a long waiting list.
It sounds like a big real estate play is going on. When did this actually start?
You have to understand that when NASA says something is new, it’s just something they haven’t told us before. I’ve been involved with this for quite a long time. And the reason people don’t know is very simple — it’s all about cloaking devices. It’s all mirrors and Illusions, just like The Avengers.
Tell us about the negativity expressed towards the climate. I mean, -46 in winter is something folks in Toronto wouldn’t understand, but it’s not that different than, say, Winnipeg, is it?
That’s true. As much as people might like to gravitate towards the summer months, we mustn’t overlook the potential of the winter. I don’t design outdoor living spaces around the solar system just for the summer months — you’ve got to think year-round. With a year that lasts 700 days, there are all kinds of innovations that you can take advantage of. For example, on Earth, we’re used to hot tubs. However, on Mars cryogenic freezing tubs are a fantastic addition to the outdoor living space. When you get into one of these cryogenic freezing tubs and instantaneously freeze and go into that cryogenic state, like Michael Jackson, when you wake up10 years later you feel incredibly well rested.
Cryogenic freezing is really good for the skin as well.
That’s right. You almost shine.
What is the potential for Bar-B-Cuing on Mars?
As you know, I’m a great believer in year-round outdoor kitchens. Real die-hards love to barbecue in the winter. Barbecuing on Mars is an incredibly invigorating activity. The flames have to be at least 12 feet in the air, which doubles as a built-in lighting feature. If you’re up on Olympus Mons and you’re barbecuing, all your neighbours are going to know you’re cooking up some great Martian land squid. But you do have to be careful because 50 per cent of the deaths on Mars are a result of barbecuing. But you go out is a hero — it’s like dying in a bear fight on Earth. Death by barbecuing is a very heroic way to go out.
Do you see yourself being a permanent habitant on Mars, seeing as you’ve spent so much time up there?
Actually, I’m from there originally. I know it’s been rumoured, but not a lot of people actually know about it. You know the expression ‘Men Are from Mars’? Well in my case it’s actually true.
What do you find personally appealing about life on Mars?
The low gravity plays an important role for those with little boy syndromes. It’s one of the reasons I like it there so much — the ability to make an entrance at a party. If you’re in your backyard on your second story deck, assuming you’ve survived the barbecuing part, staircases become irrelevant. Your ability to leap is greatly increased versus Earth. When you leap with your platter of land squids, you land like a superhero. Making a great entrance on Mars is a really big thing.
How do you hope to influence life on Mars going forward?
One of the things that I am hoping to change is this Keeping-Up-With-The- Joneses thing. It’s really not my bag, particularly when it comes to outdoor gardening. One of the trends that just drives me crazy is everyone is competing with rock gardens. It’s getting ridiculous because it’s become all about who can pile the rocks the highest. Some neighbourhoods are starting to look a bit like a war zone. There’s a lot of ego involved, which I don’t really like to be a part of.
So are you bringing in new materials to Mars to break out of that rut?
It’s a matter of bringing in some greenery. If people watch The Martian with Matt Damon, they’ll see how you can do it. But you don’t have to do it inside that stupid bubble. That’s just part of the propaganda. Study his method using condensation and you’ll have a lush green garden to put around your rock pile, be the talk of the neighbourhood, and hopefully start new trends. It will take time. I’ve done some calculations and it will take about 100 million years because the plants do grow very slowly there. But it really doesn’t matter. It’s all about the mindset.
What advice would give to those planning on moving to Mars?
It’s really important when you go there that you really embrace the culture. There is atmosphere on Mars — don’t believe what they tell you! Mars is definitely the new hip-hop happening place!