Last July, a Dutch Company called MarsOne has just announced a series of ambitious plans for sending humans to the Red Planet by 2023, far ahead of what NASA is aiming to do with its mid 2030s goal. The catch with the Mars Onemission: it is a one-way trip that will send colonists to Mars, never to return to Earth.
However, there is a plus: longer life span!
According to Mars One founder Bas Lansdorp, a life on Mars will probably be longer than one on Earth. According to Lansdorp, there will be no cars or pesticides, and the water carried on-route will serve as a shield against dangerous cosmic rays, as will the fact that the initial colony will be shielded by over 2 meters (slightly over 6 feet) of Martian soil.
Unfortunately, there's one big problem: money or, more specifically, lack thereof.
According to Fox News, the company has only 1 partner and its plans are still limited to paper. Speaking on the lack of progress, company founder Bas Lansdorp said that “we expect to have the first results from most of our suppliers before the end of the year, but all of them will require additional contracts.” Problem: Lansdorp only has a single supplier and an idea.
As for the concept itself, according to Lansdorp, Mars One has already received interest from over 200,000 people who are willing to become permanent Martians.
In time, Lansdorp plans to whittle down the list of potential astronauts by way of a reality Tvshow, which will serve as a vehicle for further funding. Revenues brought in from the television show that will document the astronaut selection process as well as through other avenues will then be used to fund the mission. As for mission cost, Lansdorp estimates a tab of $6 billion for the first 4-person crew and an additional $4 billion for each crew thereafter. Needless to say, he has a long way to go.
But why the one-way trip?
Back in the 1960s, the focus of the American space program was twofold: land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth. While no doubt a great challenge back then (and today, for that matter), a trip to the Moon and Mars couldn't be more different for one reason: distance. The Moon averages just under 240,000 miles away from Earth. Traveling in an Apollo space capsule, it takes 3 days to get to our nearest celestial neighbor. Mars? Well, that will take about 10 months. Though a return to Earth from Mars is not impossible, it will be very, very costly (as if the trip to get there wasn't expensive enough), which is why the nature of the proposed mission is one-way.
Once on Mars, the focus of the mission would be setting up a permanent colony as Mars has, so far as we know, the resources to support life, at least at the most basic levels. Needless to say, food and energy production would be the two biggest concerns for the first colonists of the Red Planet. However, the colonists would not be completely alone as communication with Earth would be possible (albeit with a delay) and supply ships would be flown to Mars to ensure the explorers have the essentials for survival.
In the end, this voyage is in the mind only as we have none of the technology required to carry humans to Mars, let alone set up a permanent base there. On the other hand, the thought of going to the Red Planet and staying there for the rest of one's life is not for most, but for a few, the idea of being a pioneer in the next great phase of human exploration is irresistible.
Unfortunately, for the moment, Mars One is a company in desperate need of funding and partners, which means that, for now, just getting off the ground, let alone to Mars by 2023, the company's goal, will be a challenge in itself.
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