Would you like to be a contestant? There’s a slight catch, however.
Are you a fan of the Survivor television reality show, or others like it? Would you like to be a contestant? Well, have I got an opportunity for you!
A Dutch company aims to land humans on Mars by 2023 as the first step toward establishing a permanent colony. The project, called Mars One, plans to drop four astronauts on the red planet in April 2023. After the initial four land, new members will arrive every two years after that.
Oh, there’s just one small catch – none of the Red Planet pioneers will ever return to Earth. Oops, did I forget to mention that? Didn’t you read the fine print in the contract?
Who Pays For It?
Besides that small detail, you may wonder how this adventure is going to be pay for itself. Well, as promised, the company says they will stage a media spectacle the likes of which the world – or the university – has never seen — a sort of interplanetary reality show like Survivor or Big Brother.
Mars One isn’t a group of flakey Hollywood types. They are serious – they are even being led by Nobel laureate Gerard ‘t Hooft. He says Mars One hopes to launch a communications satellite and a supply mission to Mars in 2016 then send a large rover to the Red Planet in 2018. This rover will scout out suitable sites for the new colony. The company will then launch settlement components — such as habitat units, life-support equipment and another rover — in 2020. The two rovers will prepare the settlement for the arrival of the first humans in 2023.
Mars One officials say they’ve talked to a variety of private spaceflight companies around the world and have at least one potential supplier for each colony component. They plan to launch many components on SpaceX’s Falcon rocket, for example, which is expected to be the world’s most powerful launch vehicle when it starts flying. The Falcon Heavy is still in development, and SpaceX officials have said the rocket’s first test flight could come as early as next year.
A Media Spectacle?
Mars One estimates that it will cost about $6 billion to put the first four astronauts on Mars. While this may seem like a daunting sum for a non-governmental entity, the company is confident it can raise the needed funds by selling corporate sponsorships. Can you just picture banners for Coke or Pepsi on Mars. More likely banks and insurance companies will be the first sponsors. After all, they’re not playing with their own money anyway.
Mars One will begin selecting its first group of astronauts in 2013, according to its website. Though the company just made its plans public in the last few weeks, it’s been developing them in secret since January 2011, officials said.
There are no details being released about how much the “colonists” or contest winners will be paid. Then again, if you are going to spend the rest of your life on Mars, what is the value of money – at least until a McDonald’s opens up next to the first Mars Home Depot.