On a sunny Sunday afternoon at the end of March 2019, we – the people behind Mars Society Netherlands – had our kickoff meeting. Annemiek, Edwin, Magda, Tijn, Petra and Michiel gathered at the Space Expo, the visitor center of ESA/ESTEC in Noordwijk. We started with a short meeting in which we discussed our progress in setting up the group and decided which steps we would take next. After this serious start, we immersed ourselves in the history of mainly European space flight and exploration.

For those interested in space flight, astronomy and the planets the exposition is a learning experience and worth a visit; what is gravity? What is a black hole? What functions do satellites have? The exposition at the visitor center gives a nice oversight of humankind’s endeavors in space. It does that with a lot of information in words and images, combined with cabinets showing astronaut’s personal belongings and outfitting. A real impression of the scale of the operations you can get from a number of life size models of satellites, rocket parts and even of a module of the International Space Station. The achievements of the Russian and American space agencies have their own corners in the exposition. The American part even contains a live size model of Appolo 11’s moon lander. We had our fun with some of the games, designed to raise some comprehension of the technicalities of space and space flight, for example by rolling steel balls in a gravity well. And we learned some things, for instance that the moon smells like charcoal. After leaving the exposition area, we closed off with a last round of drinks. We couldn’t go home without having made a group picture for the website, though. It took some discussion to find the best background to shoot it against, but in the end we managed to have a nice one being made of us. Now we said our goodbyes and went all our own ways, our minds filled with new inspiration.

Perhaps we as a society should start to think in a different way and should start searching for new possibilities in space. The colonization of Mars could contribute to the development of groundbreaking innovations in many areas.

Hopefully a manned mission to Mars will become a future possibility, thanks to advancing technical knowledge. “The future of humankind can go in two directions, “Elon Musk sums up, “or she becomes multiplanetary, or we stay captive on Earth and then there will be a time in which we become extinct.