Ever since they announced their plan to establish a colony on Mars by 2022, Mars One has been flooded by applicants eager to set foot on a new planet and make it their home. In fact, according to a recent story by CNN Tech, over 100,000 people have volunteered for the mission, knowing full well that it would be a one-way trip and their stay on the Red Planet would be permanent.
Anyone who is 18 years of age or older can apply, and the fee runs anywhere from $15 to $38, depending on your nationality and the gross domestic product of your country. Ultimately, only 40 people will be selected this year, and only two couples will be sent ahead with the first mission. This mission is slated to leave by September of 2022 and land on Mars by April of 2023, with another group of four to be sent two years later.
The applicants can all be seen simply be going to their website, where each person has created a profile and can be voted on. According to Bas Lansdorp, co-founder and CEO of Mars One, only those who have completed the registration process can be seen here:
There is also a very large number of people who are still working on their profile, so either they have decided not to pay the application fee, or they are still making their video or they’re still filling out the questionnaire or their resume. So the people that you can see online are only the ones that have finished and who have set their profiles as public.
In terms of what the selectees will do once the project is up and running, the website offers a basic rundown. First, the volunteer astronauts will undergo a required eight-year training in a secluded location, where they will learn how to repair habitat structures, grow vegetables in confined spaces and address “both routine and serious medical issues such as dental upkeep, muscle tears and bone fractures.”
In terms of how settlement will occur, the plan is to send a series of Mars One landers equipped with up to 2500 kg (5,500 pounds) of food, solar panels and supplies each. After eight missions, more than 44,000 pounds of supplies and 40 people will have arrived and the capsules themselves will be formed into the settler’s habitat.
Two things Earth won’t be sending is water and oxygen, since the settlers will be manufacturing these themselves. According to Lansdrop, these will be manufactured on Mars:
We will evaporate it and condense it back into its liquid state. From the water we can make hydrogen and oxygen, and we will use the oxygen for a breathing atmosphere inside the habitat. This will be prepared by the rovers autonomously before the humans arrive.
Naturally, a good many details, such as where the $6 billion dollars for the first mission are going to come from, whether or not the technology truly exists to create a self-sustaining colony on Mars, and whether the people going up will be able to survive for extended periods of time until new waves arrive and new settlements are opened up.
In addition, there are experts who say that the risks are too high given the distance and exposure to radiation involved. A round-trip journey to Mars could expose astronauts to the maximum amount of radiation allowed in a career under current NASA standards. While Mars One does not negate this issue, they have yet to indicate how they intend to keep their astronauts shielded from the harmful cosmic rays.
However, this has not deterred some 30,000 Americans and over 100,000 people worldwide from signing on. What’s more, Lansdrop has said repeatedly that the project will be funded by sponsors and media that will pay for broadcasting rights of shows and movies documenting everything from the astronauts’ training on Earth to their deployment and colonization of Mars.
Basically, they intend for the entire process to be a worldwide media event, a massive reality TV show, with the necessary advances and funding worked out as time goes on. Right now, all they are looking for is volunteers so that corporate and media sponsors understand just how serious this is and that the willingness to go is there. No telling if that will be enough, but it is a start.
What’s more, Mars One is not alone in trying to make a trip to the Red Planet a reality. The Inspiration Mars Foundation is another such private venture, which is seeking to send a couple on a 501-day, round-trip journey aboard a space craft that will take then to Mars and back in 2018 without ever touching down on the surface.
Here too, the issue of funding, the technology involved, and the problem of radiation shielding are all being considered and ironed out in an ongoing manner, with some rather interesting possibilities being considered (such as using human feces and waste plumbing to shield the astronauts from radiation!)
Ultimately, it seems that certain private ventures are not willing to wait for NASA’s planned 2030 excursion to Mars before general settlement and terraforming can begin. And though it may prove unfeasibly by the time frames being proposed, the excitement and desire to make things happen sooner than projected are understandable.
And as Lansdorp explains, much of the project has to do with telling a story, perhaps the greatest ever told:
What we want to do is tell the story to the world. When humans go to Mars, when they settle on Mars and build a new Earth, a new planet. This is one of the most exciting things that ever happened, and we want to share the story with the entire world.
For the full CNN story, plus video of the interview with the Mars Society, follow the link below:
And be sure to check out Mars One promotional video:
Sources: cnn.com, mars-one.com, applicants.mars-one.com