After Mars One stole headlines with plans to send people on a one-way flight to colonise the Red Planet, Nicola Ranger asks, is there not an easier way?
Mars One, the not-for-profit mission to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars, has hit the headlines with the announcement that, from over 200,000 applicants, Mars One has named the final 100 humans competing for the chance to be the very first permanent residents of Mars. Or to put it another way, competing for the chance to die on Mars.
You see, Mars One is a one way mission. You get to Mars, you do some science stuff, you help get ready for the next few humans to arrive in a couple of years time and then you stay there. Forever. Living in a little white pod and wearing a spacesuit whenever you venture outside.
No big deal right?
The Mars One website talks of the possibility of building the return rocket on Mars, once some more people have settled. Umm…OK. It takes goodness knows how many highly skilled engineers and unfathomable amounts of money to get humans on to Mars, but the settlers, arriving at a rate of four people every two years, can just rustle up a return rocket…using…what exactly…?
We’ll be hearing a lot more about Mars One over the next few years, as the remaining rounds of crew selection and training are turned into a reality TV show; the film and broadcast rights being sold to help fund the mission. There will even be an audience vote in the later stages of the contest.
I feel like someone should be in charge and maybe even putting a stop to this, but governments don’t seem to be getting too involved in governing the activities of space projects. Space exploration is now all about people with big ideas, meeting people with amazing brains, meeting people with deep pockets.
Mars One sounds like the plot of a science fiction film; but it’s not, it’s really happening.
Mars One may have the slickest website, the best media team and real normal people now getting involved (always the best way to get the world’s attention!), but there are other entities planning to put humans on Mars. You may have heard of one of them. NASA.
NASA’s getting busy up there on the red planet and plans to put astronauts up there sometime in the 2030s.
There’s also SpaceX beavering away on a reusable rocket that will allow interplanetary living. Not just getting there, but coming home too. Doesn’t that sound just a little bit more attractive?
SpaceX also has a grander vision of establishing a colony of about 80,000 people on Mars. At maybe $500,000 a ticket that’s 80,000 fairly rich people; but it might just mean that when Planet Earth finally sinks, there’ll be lifeboats waiting for the lucky few.