Honey, I Want to Move to Mars

My wife is a semifinalist to board a one-way mission to the Red Planet. I’m proud, happy, and thrilled for her. Now, do you want to know how I really feel about it?
Thu April 3, 2014 5:45 am
Jason Stanford and Sonia Van Meter.
Photograph courtesy of Jason Stanford

Until recently, I never understood the scene in Apollo 13 when the astronaut wives watched their husbands launch into space, leaving them back on Earth to deal with the reporters.

Reporter 1: Mrs. Lovell! Mrs. Haise!
Reporter 2 : Can we speak to you? Can we just have a word with you, please?
Marilyn Lovell : Remember, you’re proud, happy, and thrilled.
Reporter 1 : How are you feeling?
Mary Haise : Well, we’re very proud, very happy, and we’re thrilled.

It made no sense to me. Wasn’t saying you’re proud, happy, and thrilled stating the obvious? Their husbands were astronauts, for crying out loud. How else would you feel? At least, that’s how I felt until my own spouse made it past the initial stages in the application process to be among the first humans on Mars.

You might have read about my wife, heard her on the radio, or seen her on TV. She’s Sonia Van Meter, the Austin woman (and stepmother) who is a semifinalist for Mars One, the privately funded European nonprofit that wants to recruit and train people to be sent to Mars in groups of four starting in 2024. When people learn of this, they invariably ask how I feel.  

I’m proud, happy, and thrilled, of course.   

Now I get it. Marilyn Lovell’s string of supportive adjectives was more than an astronaut’s wife’s version of the clichés that Crash Davis taught Nuke LaLoosh. It was her way of being supportive while telling the press to go to the beach and pound sand.

But astronaut wives only had to hold out for a week before their husbands came home. If Sonia goes to

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