- Near the section of the motorway between Lodz and Wroclaw, we come across a huge radio telescope over a rural kindergarten, where llamas graze
- A retired wood processing engineer invites you to view it. It was he who founded the star base in the municipality of Wirozov. It was also given back-up candidate status on the manned Mars One mission – without returning to Earth
- Our interviewer talks about three “Blaszczak Craters” near the highest mountain in Mars and the entire solar system. The grandchildren will build a home there in the future. This place will be an extraordinary tourist attraction, as the 76-year-old predicts
- More such articles can be found on the Onet homepage
We spotted “The Plate” near Cieszycin in Wieruszów municipality, on the outskirts of Łódź Voivodeship on its border with Wielkopolska, by accident. We were returning in July from the neighboring village of Usyek, where 124 years ago the struggle over the votive cross, determined as compensation for the monstrous crime committed by a carpenter in love, had intensified.
We walk around the villages near Wieruszów. And suddenly a powerful radio telescope …
It started with my fascination with the Soviet Sputnik
The story from Cieszycin is much more cheerful than the story from Osiek Village. The Kazimierz Błaszczak star base is essentially a radio telescope with a 13-meter-diameter dish, brought to Wieruszów municipality near Kielce from the Satellite Service Center in Psary – after its liquidation in 2010.
In July, two llamas looked askance at us from under the “plate”. This is part of the flock that belongs to the working Kindergarten at the Stellar Base.
“Painting” above the Kindergarten in Cieszycin. And under it you can see two llamas
Błaszczak is a retired wood processing engineer. He became fascinated with quinoa research in his school days—when he discussed the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 with a teacher—and now invites everyone interested in astronomy to watch Cieszycin’s radio telescope. It is enough to drive towards this village from the S-8 motorway, more or less in the middle of its section between Lodz and Wroclaw.
– You can call me for a tour, or you can see it yourself – adds Błaszczak, who has been active on Facebook for years.
Just when we were under “the plate,” the 76-year-old star base host went on vacation — to his family in the States — but was happy to answer our questions from America. He has a lot of experience in this matter Błaszczak got really rowdy: when he began preparations for a manned mission to Mars…
One way mission to Mars
It’s about the Mars One mission. At the beginning of the last decade, its design was presented by Bas Lansdorp, a Dutch engineer and businessman.
“He based it on the assumption that it would be a one-way mission: with a new home built on Mars, without returning to Earth,” says Błaszczak. He lists two main advantages of such an idea in relation to a round-trip mission: reduced level of complexity and therefore cost.
– Bass adopted the principle of carrying out the mission on the basis of the technology currently available: in 2011, he visited the largest space companies in the world and signed letters of intent to supply all the necessary elements to carry out this mission. Among other things, it was at SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, that he received assurances about the production of suitable rockets – Błaszczak reports.
Kazimierz Błaszczak visits Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA – Photo: K. Błaszczak Private Archive
A resident of Wieruszów municipality was, by his calculations, the first of 280,000 people. Volunteers announced in 2013 their willingness to travel to Mars one way via email. He was 66 years old at the time.
Then the serious application process began. It was necessary to fill out a comprehensive survey, submit the incentive, create a video and pay the subscription fee. As a candidate from Poland, I paid $19. 4,000 entered. Application – says Blaszczak.
As he recalls, the next stages of selection required verification by a special commission, submission of medical examinations and passing an online test in knowledge about Mars.
Lansdorp wanted to select one hundred daredevils for the project. Błaszczak – passed the Mars test – was already among the several hundred finalists, but in the end he had to be content with the status of a reserve candidate: with a chance to enter a hundred if someone dropped out of it for various reasons.
In contrast, the one hundred chosen for “Mars One” would apply for priority in spaceflight as part of a television program and online vote. According to Lansdorp’s plan, they must indicate which groups of four – competing in the parade – are best suited to be astronauts. If he joins the program, Błaszczak says, he will be in a group with a military man from the United States, a geologist from Japan, and an opera singer from South Africa.
What is the purpose of the transmissions from the competing teams’ cosmic preparations? Lansdorp planned to sell them worldwide television rights and also finance flights to Mars in this way.
– The Mars One program assumed the departure of the first four in September 2031 and landing seven months later – recalls Błaszczak.
Kazimierz Błaszczak with a copy of the Saturn V rocket (from the family of launch vehicles used by NASA in the Apollo manned spaceflight programs) – Photo: K. Błaszczak Private Archive
The business plan was to hit four more every two years. Over time, families will be formed, a new generation will be born in them, and the growing Martian society will receive more supplies of the necessary equipment from Earth. Błaszczak saw himself as a specialist in his service, but also a “grandfather” to the “Martian” children – after leaving his earthly family…
What’s left of the Mars One mission? Or just an episode of “The Simpsons”?
But it seems that a resident of the municipality of Wieruszów will not move from the land in the coming years.
“The funds ran out and the selection and technical research program could not be continued,” explains the author of the statement entitled “First Mars Flight (2011-2021)”, which can now be read on the Bas Lansdorp project website.
The message confirms the contribution of the pending mission to popularizing the topic of settling people on Mars, as well as to popular culture – after all, the selection of the Martian crew through casting is the subject of one of the episodes of the cartoon “The Simpsons”. When the women of the series’ family are about to leave Earth, it turns out that the rocket is a makeshift one, and that the creators of the space mission just wanted to “inspire future generations”…
And according to Błaszczak, behind the comment “Mars One” there is “negative propaganda” against the creator of this project: including the position of Elon Musk.
– He no longer wants to participate in “Mars One”: Musk seems to want all the glory to go to him, – assesses Błaszczak.
Recall that in the near future the company SpaceX – Muska – will use a manned mission to Mars The Starship exploded in April during its first full test flight in Earth orbit.
Meanwhile, Błaszczak, although – as he points out – highly appreciates the achievements and intellect of the SpaceX president, he is very critical of him. An example of a Wieruszów resident’s suspicions regarding Musk’s Martian plans? “He says he’s going to make a Starship that can carry 100 people and 400 tons of payload, but he didn’t specify if they would fly both ways or one way,” he explains.
76 years after “Mars One” comment: “I would like to participate in a similar project”
We asked Błaszczak if he plans to take part in missions to Mars — if chances are reminiscent of Lansdorp’s pending plans.
– I am an old man in my 70s, but I would be happy to take part in a project similar to “Mars One”, – answers Błaszczak. – My dream is to witness the landing of people on Mars in my life and I will support this mission in every possible way, contributing to its implementation, albeit in a small part. This is why I am passionate about promoting and educating in the field of astronomy and astronautics.
Kazimierz Błaszak at the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. Until 2016, it was the world’s largest single dish radio telescope (305 meters in diameter). Currently, it does not work – Image: K. Blaszczak’s private archive
This is the passion that the Center for Astronomy and Space Education serves for them. Maria Konek, under whom the radio telescope located in Cieszycin works (her patron is a 17th-century astronomer, temporarily living near Wieruszów, when she was seeking shelter from the Thirty Years’ War). According to Puczakzak, the price of this radio telescope (as he reckons it, the third largest in Poland) was a “bargain”. He adds that – when he brought the device from Kielce – opponents considered it a whim, but the radio telescope was installed in Cieszycin thanks to success in the civic budget in 2013 (Wieruszów municipality donated 74,000 PLN).
The 13-meter radio telescope dish in Cieszycin
– A radio telescope receives radio waves from space, – says Pusachczak. – However, the reception is of poor quality.
The 76-year-old enumerates further investments that could improve this quality – including “parachute justification” (or to simplify its adjustment) – worth tens of thousands of zlotys. Currently, the Center in Cieszycin organizes, among other things, workshops for young people for the small grants obtained. Błaszczak dreams of building a planetarium and erecting a modern telescope with an observation dome.
The radio telescope in Cieszycin was purchased at a “bargain” price from the Psary satellite service center near Kielce, which was closed in 2010
Where to build a house with the best view in the solar system?
Finally, we go again from the municipality of Wieruszów to Mars. Because, he says, Błaszczak owns the naming rights to three craters on the planet. He obtained these rights in a work to financially support the study of astronomy students.
“The IAU can change the names you mentioned, but it can also leave them,” the 76-year-old explains. These names are: Kazimierz Tadeusz Błaszczak, Lukas Vincent Magathan, and Natan Kazimierz Błaszczak. The first of these comes from the names and surnames of Oneh’s interlocutor, the second – from his grandson, who lives in the USA – and the third: from his great-grandson, who lives in Poland.
The Błaszczaków Craters are located in the region of Olympus Mons, the highest mountain in the solar system (it rises about 25 km above the surrounding plain).
Image of Mount Olympus Mons taken during the European Space Agency’s uncrewed Mars Express mission. The photo is from 2004.
The grandchildren will build a home there in the future. This place will be an extraordinary tourist attraction, predicts a resident of Wieruszów municipality.
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