The phrase “men are from Mars” might not be so far fetched any longer. Indeed, both men and women might be using a Mars area code by 2023.
That is if you’re willing to book a one-way ticket, of course.
Some 56.4 million kilometres. That’s the brief distance from Earth to Mars. With current day technology, it would take roughly seven months on a spaceship—or a ‘89 Porsche 911 Turbo—to get to the Red Planet. To date, no human has ever been to Mars, well, otherwise than Bill O’Reilly for ancestry research. We have, however, landed two unmanned spacecrafts on its surface—the Mars Rover Opportunity and the science laboratory and secondary rover, aptly titled, Curiosity.
That is all about to change if Mars One has anything to do about it.
Mars One is a Dutch not-for-profit with the goal to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Fair enough. Formally launched in 2012, co-founder Bas Lansdorp, a Dutch entrepreneur and mechanical engineer, has quite the plan set in place that includes reality television as one of the chief revenue drivers for the Mars mission. “Human exploration of Mars will be the most exciting adventure mankind has embarked upon in decades,” says Lansdorp in a press release. “It will inspire a new generation of engineers, inventors, artists and scientists. It will create a new generation of heroes—the first explorers to go to Mars will step straight into the history books.”
Here’s a quick breakdown of Lansdorp’s plan. Currently, Mars One has been selecting candidates to take the one-way trip. Out of over 200,000 candidates, they have selected 1,058 “finalists” for lack of a better word. Of the finalists from over 100 countries, 75 are Canadian, which has the second most finalists next to the U.S. They will eventually whittle the list down to 24, which will make up the first human colony on the fourth planet from the sun.
The best part is that the whole project will be a reality television show. Of course.
Next, in 2016, they will send a communication satellite to Mars. Following this, they will send a “planetary rover” to find the best location for the settlement. Hopefully they are able to find something tropical with palm trees. Then, in 2020, living units, more supplies and another rover will be sent to Mars. The rovers—imagine large robotic maids that don’t talk back—will then tidy up and prepare the outpost for the arrival of the humans. In Sept. 2022, the first crew of four will depart for Mars. If all goes to plan, they will arrive on the red planet 210 days later in 2023. Two years later, another four colonists will arrive. By 2033, they project that they would have a colony of 20 quote-unquote Martians.
All in all, Mars One is estimating the project will cost $6 billion. At press time, they had crowdfunded over $310,000. Easy peasy.
The best part is that the whole project will be a reality television show. “We expect it to capture an audience of millions, culminating in several billion online spectators when the first crew lands on Mars,” says Lansdorp. (Paul Römer, inventor of the TV series Big Brother, is one of Mars One’s biggest ambassadors).
That’s right. Leave it to us humans to explore the universe and beyond and inhabit another planet all the while the rest of us can comfortably watch from our couches. The goal is that the global reality TV show will help finance the greater bulk of the expedition cost. In essence, they will sell the broadcasting rights for every stage of the expedition, starting with the selection process and the seven years of training all the way to eventually stepping foot on Mars. I’m just hoping that one of the first four Mars inhabitants likes drama. Scratch that, let’s just make sure Snooki is signed up. She’s a perfect representative for Earth and hasn’t been doing much lately.
Of course, all this means that if you’re heading to Mars, well, you’re staying on Mars. It’s too expensive and complicated to build a return vessel, according to Mars One. There’s also the fact of severe radiation as there isn’t a protective magnetic field on Mars. There’s the difficulty of landing on a foreign planet with half the gravity of Earth after flying through space at ridiculous speeds for over half a year. Oh yeah, there’s also the reality that the Martian atmosphere is comprised of 95% carbon dioxide. “It’s a risky adventure, and we will have to reduce the risk as much as possible,” Lansdorp tells Wired Magazine in an interview. “But it will always be safer to stay home.”
Godspeed, guys. Godspeed.
by RYAN BOLTON, originally published in Chill magazine