The successful completion of the recent SpaceX mission to the International Space Station signifies the beginning of a new era of space exploration by private companies. Exploration missions, asteroid mining, tourist space flights, and even hotels in space are projects well underway by various private space companies. But one company is aiming to establish the first human settlement on Mars.
Mars One’s goal is to establish a human colony on Mars by April 2023. The plan calls for four astronauts to be sent on a one-way trip to Mars, with new teams of four astronauts arriving every two years following that. The aggressive timeline established by the company details plans to land a supply ship on Mars in October 2016. A robotic rover will land in 2018 with the goal of exploring the planet for the best location to establish the first colony. Living units, life support units, and storage units will be sent to the planet in 2021, where rovers will move everything into place, and prepare the colony for the astronauts’ arrival in 2023.
Where Mars One will find people willing to sign up for a one-way ticket to Mars in unknown, but according to the company’s website, they have already received “many emails” from people wanting to sign up. The company claims this mission to Mars will be the “biggest media event in history.” And it appears the company plans to rely heavily on the media, almost to the point of making the mission into a reality TV show. Mars One explains that, because these astronauts will be Earth’s representatives on Mars, “it is so crucial to have them chosen by the population of the world.” In true reality TV fashion, humans will be able to vote for his or her favorite contestant. During astronaut training, the company claims that “all broadcast footage will be live, so that everyone can watch their favorite candidate and all participants are portrayed equally and objectively.”
Nobel Prize winner Prof. dr. ’t Hooft is an ambassador for Mars One, and he thinks the company’s mission is “an extraordinarily daring initiative by people with vision and imagination.” He also thinks that this mission is “the only way to fulfill dreams of mankind’s expansion into space.”
Mars One is not accepting astronaut candidates just yet. But when they are ready (they are shooting for 2013), an announcement will be made on their website.