For several years now, a human journey to Mars has been taking shape. The aviation giants are paying more and more attention to the red planet, trips are already planned. Life on another planet becomes clearer, it remains to delineate the contours of this operation. And on the side of the experts, one question is shared: that of cannibalism.
Cannibalism among astronauts?
Whether in France or the United States, cannibalism is not considered “illegal”. And for good reason, no law officially prohibits cannibalism. However, killing is a crime. Stealing a body from a morgue is prohibited, as is exhumation without permission. In order to overcome all eventualities, experts imagining all the possibilities of space travel and the conquest of Mars are examining the question of cannibalism. The latter is not prohibited by law, but it does raise an ethical question. Paul Wolpe, a bioethicist at Emory University, tries to answer that.
“There are two kinds of approaches to this matter. First, life is paramount, although we owe the body a great deal of respect. If the only way to survive is to eat a body, that’s fine but undesirable .
It’s a long tradition. People committed suicide in order to save others and, in fact, it is entirely religiously acceptable. We can’t put a straw with a grain of salt over who we’re going to kill to eat, but we’ve often seen the people who jump on grenades to save their friends as heroes. “
In Andy Weir’s novel Alone on Mars, adapted in a 2015 film by Ridley Scott starring Matt Damon, a backup plan prompts all but one of the crew members to commit suicide so that their bodies can be used as a source of food for the last Living. A heroic but questionable way to continue the mission at any cost. Finally, in Neil Marshall’s Doosmday (2008), one survivor said nicely, “When you have it, all you have to do is eat a piece of your buddy.”
Currently, space agencies do not ban cannibalism. And for good reason, astronauts shouldn’t be using it. However, in extreme cases, the topic can be put back on the table. The decision is then undoubtedly left to the first interested party who will make the difficult decision of knowing whether he intends to consume human flesh in order to continue his mission. The missions to Mars are accelerating and Elon Musk wants to found a Martian city from 2054. It remains to be seen what the outcome of the first human journey to Mars will be, which in turn is slated for 2026 or even 2024.