You say you want to become a global reality TV star? You say you want to travel into space? Well then Mars One, a Dutch-based NGO which hopes to someday establish human settlements on the red planet, is the company for you. This week Mars One released their criteria for those wishing to apply to be the first human colonists on Mars.
For the adventurous souls who are interested in applying, Mars One lists the “five key characteristics” of a Martian explorer. These include: resiliency (persistent thought processes), adaptability (being open and tolerant of ideas), curiosity, ability to trust and creativity/resourcefulness. “Mars One cannot stress enough the importance of an applicant’s capacity for self-reflection,” the group’s website says. Coming as it does on the heels of the newly published results of Russia, China and the European Union‘s two-year Mars500 project, which indicated fatigue and boredom are major challenges for any long-term space exploration program, they may want to include “sound sleeper” and “easily entertained.”
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The Mars One mission launch is set for 2023, and the actual application procedure, which begins in the first half of this year, looks to be part of an elaborate, if ambitious, plan to procure funding for the estimated $6 billion project. Applicants from each country will take part in a local reality TV show to “demonstrate their suitability to become one of the first humans on Mars.” The audience will select a winner to advance to a round of four. Eventually there will be six groups of four, who will all form the Mars One astronaut corps. Only one team will be sent to Mars in 2023.
Not surprisingly for a project of this scope, the very first question in their FAQ section is “Is this for real?” And in fact, it seems that it is. The project is the brainchild of co-founders Bas Lansdorp, an entrepreneur who “sees potential and opportunity where others shy away”, and Arno A. Wielders, a physicist who also works at the European Space Technology and Research Centre. “I believe mankind is destined to be a multi-planet species,” Wielders writes on the Mars One website.
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Travel to Mars has long been a dream in the space community, and other private funders and scientists are working on similarly audacious projects. However Mars One’s plan to fund the project through ad revenues from “the biggest-ever television spectacle” — and to create a permanent colony — has been criticized by many space exploration experts. As Chris Welch, director of the masters programs at the International Space University in France, told the BBC:
“Even ignoring the potential mismatch between the project income and its costs and questions about its longer-term viability, the Mars One proposal does not demonstrate a sufficiently deep understanding of the problems to give real confidence that the project would be able to meet its very ambitious schedule.”
However, one Nobel prize-winning Dutch physicist, Gerard ‘t Hooft, did commend the founders’ vision: “My first reaction was like anyone –‘this will never happen’. But now look and listen more closely, this is really something that can be achieved.”
Anyone considering applying should keep in mind one important caveat: as funding does not stretch far enough to cover a return flight to Earth, the trip will be one-way only.
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