For most, space exploration has been a fascination since adolescence; series like Star War and Star Trek, romanticizing the concept of far off planets and uninhabitable lands, filled with vast expanses of the darkness of space. Letting dreams take you beyond the clouds, aspirations of a career as an astronaut seem closer than before, but what about those who cannot make it through the rigorous process of entering NASA's elite profession? Turns out you can buy your way off this planet; but there is still catch-you can't come back.
As news of NASA's plan to construct a permanent greenhouse on our local neighboring red planet Mars, other news comes from the red planet's private sector-the newly funded "Mars One". The independently crowd-funded Dutch company, Mars One is estimating that they can colonize Mars for human pilgrims as soon as 2023. And people are flooding in for a chance to explore the red planet.
Receiving 165,000 applications from all corners of the Earth, the company has proven that there is a market for settlements on the Mars. But the question prevails: is there the money?
"After discussions with potential supplier for each component and close examination, Mars One estimates the cost of putting the first four people on Mars at $6 billion" Mars One said in a recent press release. "The six billion figure is the cost of all the hardware combined, plus the operational expenditures, plus margins. For every next manned mission, Mars One estimates the costs at $4 billion."
Mars One's CEO Bas Lansdorp says that funding will be the largest hurdle to traverse in bringing this project to fruition. At only 1/30,000th of the way to meet their budget goals, with donations at a mere $200,000 the company is looking for alternative ways of funding the budget.
But in spite of the apparent insurmountable odds, would-be Martians are continuing to flock to the company with their support and their hopes in hand.
The company is promising that with full funding, full colonies could be developed as soon as 2025. Adventurers, and deserters of Earth, would be purchasing a one-way ticket off this planet for the opportunity to explore and inhabit another. Mars One disclosed that no return-trip will be offered, as the technology has not been developed on Mars for bi-directional travel, but people are still flocking to launch site. And the company has been fairly transparent with all of the odds. Disclosing strict qualifications on their main site, the company is making it clear they are going to inhabit the red planet with an image of the first community in mind; the right age, excellent health, English-speaking and even, yes, the right height (between 5'1'' and 6'2'').
"In spaceflight missions, the primary personal attributes of a successful astronaut are emotional and psychological stability, supported by personal drive and motivation. This is foundation upon a mission must be built, where human lives are at risk with each flight" Mars One says. "Once on Mars, there are not means to return to Earth. Mars is home."
Home, at least for those who survive the trip. Aside from the fact that individuals will be deserting their families and their home planet for good, prospective Martians must also consider the fact they my never make it to the red soil... or might not be there for very long. The company disclosed the serious risks involved with travelling and settlement, and the chance of deaths are much greater than not.
"None of us are planning to die, but we all recognize we could" 45-year-old Emergency room doctor and Mars One candidate, Leila Zucker says. "As long as there's a small possibility to do something great, I think it's worth the risk."
To give you a little historical anecdote, in the first permanent settlement of the United States, out of the first 152 passengers on the voyage of the Mayflower to Plymouth rock, 50 died in transit, and an additional 45 died their first Winter on the east coast.
So what are the odds for those planning on crossing through space? Enthusiasts are optimistic, but only time will tell.
Think you've got what it takes to make the move to Mars?
Check out the requirements at: www.mars-one.com/faq/ and join the community... if you can.