A privately funded space ship will be headed to Mars in 2022. The only catch? You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
Apparently lots of people on Earth are ready to take a permanent vacation from the planet, according to Bas Lansdorp, the Netherlands-based man who is the brains behind a private space endeavor called Mars One.
In an interview with Brent Bambury on Canada's CBC Radio, Landsdorp told the host that he'd had over 8,000 emails from more than 100 countries sent by old and young, male and female, highly and undereducated folks, volunteering to be the among the first group of people on Mars.
But why no return mission to Earth?
"Our goal is to send humans to Mars and settle mankind on the red planet. We can only do that with current date technology if we forget about the return mission. The technology to bring humans from Mars back to Earth simply does not exist yet," said Landsdorp to CBC.
There is a special sort of person that the Mars One team will be recruiting. Explorers with old-fashioned gumption who have personalities similar to those who set off to explore Australia, the U.S. and Canada back in the day. The perfect candidates will not need to be educated in medicine nor engineering — an 8-year training program will get marsmonauts ready with those skill sets, in addition to teaching horticultural techniques.
Lansdorp suggests the most important crew member qualities would be the ability to get along well in groups, to be completely reliable and to "know when to lead, when to follow." They should be the "kind of people you want to be stranded with on an uninhabited island," capable of excelling when things look particularly bleak.
Landsdorp is enthusiastic about the ability of current technology to get a crew to Mars, and the ease of which he believes his team can fund the mission.
The cost is staggering — $6 billion to land the first four crew members on the planet, then $4 billion for every set of crew members thereafter. Landsdorp cites the $1 billion per week in revenue that the Olympic games garnered in sponsorship and broadcasting rights, and infers that with viewers around the world, financing through the same avenue will be viable.
That said, Mars One already closed its first two investment deals in January. Revenue is streaming in via sponsorships and donations from across the planet, said Landsdorp, for he considers the most exciting story ever.
Here's a brief rundown of the anticipated settlement plan:
|2016: Demonstration of capability mission to land on Mars.|
|2018: Send a rover to Mars. Rover will drive around and determine best place for settlement.|
|2020: Send off six cargo missions containing two living units, two life support units, another rover, and a supply unit. The two rovers will set up the settlement first, activate life support systems, and habitability before a crew even sets off from Earth.|
|2022: In September, the first crew of four people will set off|
|2023: End of April, the crew will land.|
Once the crew is settled in, its days will be similar to one on Earth, said Landsdorp.
The first crew will be busy constructing its new home, then days will be spent growing food, because the cost of sending fresh food to Mars would be prohibitive. When the settlement is up and running, the crew will be free to explore the planet.
The Mars One team currently numbers seven people, but is supported with advisors and ambassadors from everywhere, including NASA and Japan's space program, said Landsdorp.
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