What Is This Mars One Thing I’ve Been Hearing About?

Visit the Official Mars One Website for all the latest news.
Visit the Official Mars One Website for all the latest news.

You might have seen a segment on the 6 O’Clock News about this idea called “Mars One” and now you’re scratching your head. Send people to live on Mars by 2023? It sounds like science fiction. However, the founders of the non-profit organization Mars One are perfectly serious. They’re just starting to get rolling on it and they’re going to open up the application process any day now. So if you’ve been rooting on efforts to get beyond Earth orbit and you would love to participate, you might like to find out more about the qualifications you need to apply and answer any questions you have about how Mars One plans to send people to Mars.

Mars One Introduction Film

Why Mars? And Why Now?

Both good questions. Mars has inspired human imagination for as long as people have looked up at the sky and wondered about what they saw. However, it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that we gave actual, serious thought about the possibility of going to other worlds. And by “serious” I mean outside the realm of science fiction and the occasional proposal by pioneers who were ahead of their time.

The simple fact that colonizing Mars is feasible in ways that colonizing, say, Venus simply isn’t at this time. There is evidence that Mars could have actually supported life at some point in the distant past and can do it again with some help from human beings.

As for the timing, I’ve wondered the same thing. “Why now?” Why didn’t we set our sights on Mars once we established that we could land on the Moon? Could we have had permanent settlements on both the Moon and Mars by now if we hadn’t quit after Apollo 17? Considering that our population is at 7 billion human beings and rising, it is a very good idea to start the process now so that our growing population has somewhere to go.

Mars One Rover

The robotic Martian exploration vessels that actually made it to Mars without crashing, losing their way or falling out of contact with Earth tended to outlast their original missions. However, every single one of them lose functionality eventually due to the fact that there aren’t any repair shops on Mars. That won’t be as much of a problem with the Mars One Rover because there will be actual humans present to deal with any mechanical issues that come up. If you’ve ever envied the teams that get to explore Mars remotely, here’s your chance to get up close and personal with the Mars One Rover.

Some FAQs About Colonizing Mars

Space exploration is expensive. How does Mars One plan to manage costs? Mars One estimates that their plan will cost about $6 billion. While they can only shave costs so much while still keeping its astronauts safe, they planned for an efficient model that includes extracting water and oxygen from the Martian environment as well as the production of fresh food on Mars. Because Mars One will only have to send emergency supplies of food, water and oxygen, they can save on the costs associated with shipping.

Sounds risky. What if something goes wrong and the colonists get killed? It could happen. Colonizing Mars is going to be a high-stakes learning process and the Mars One team will have to take every conceivable risk into account. Anything that goes wrong will probably lead to delays and a possible cancellation of the program if sponsors decide to pull out. However, it’s well worth the risk and the payoff will be huge.

Couldn’t the money be better used on social issues like world hunger? The simple fact is that Earth will always have social issues that won’t be fixed by throwing money at them. Really, the $6 billion is an initial investment towards normalizing travel between Earth and Mars and opening the door for pioneers who want to jump-start a better future for those who will come after them.

Are they looking for any particular nationality or ethnicity? Not in particular. They expect to have a well-rounded representation of humanity as a whole. They will also look for individuals who are adaptable enough to work with people with a different cultural background.

Won’t this attract the marginal jobs who expect to find green men riding Thoats on Mars? I’m sure they expect it. However, Mars One’s selection process will weed out anybody who is less than mentally and physically fit to go to Mars.

I’d like to apply, but I have a perfectly comfortable life where I am now. I get where you’re coming from. Trading your current life for a one-way trip to Mars is a big decision. I certainly won’t claim that colonizing Mars is for everyone. You can still support Mars One with this cool official merchandise.

Why I Am Going To Apply

People are going to look at me weird. They think I’m nuts for even considering it. Why on Earth would I sign up for a one-way trip to Mars, leaving behind friends and family and a reasonably comfortable life? However, the truth is that I’ve finally gotten sick of sitting on the sidelines and cheering on other people’s accomplishments. When I first heard that Mars One was looking for applicants this year, my first reaction was, “When and where?”

I will allow that I’ve wrestled with doubts. I’m nobody special. I’m a freelancer and a blogger who happens to be pretty good with computers. I have a tendency to be shy. I can be sarcastic sometimes. It’s going to be tough and I know the odds are against me. But I’m hoping that the people in charge of the selection process will see that I’m willing to roll up my sleeves, do the work, and learn what I need to learn to give myself a fair chance.

It basically boils down to a couple of choices. I can sit on my hands and let life pass me by. Or I can seize the chance and see what happens. It’s not that hard of a choice, so I’m going for it.

A Word From Bas Lansdorp

Bas Lansdorp is a co-founder and the general director of Mars One. Here, he gives a talk at the Club of Amsterdam.

Learn More About Mars