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One Way Ticket to Mars

August 8, 2014

Have you heard of Mars One? It’s a really cool non-profit organization that began in 2011 and plans to establish a human colony on Mars by 2025. For reals, it’s not a gimmick! They have suppliers and funding and they’ve already begun their selection process for the first crews. Excuse me while I barf from jealousy.

Over 200,000 people have applied to be the first Martians, but only ~24 lucky pioneers will be selected and intensively trained. The ideal candidates are intelligent, creative, motivated and psychologically stable (guess I’m out!), and not surprisingly the physical requirements are strict too:

– No diseases or dependency on drugs, alcohol or tobacco
– Normal range of motion and functionality in all joints
– Visual acuity in both eyes of 100% (20/20) with or without lenses
– No psychiatric disorders
– Age- and gender-adequate fitness level
– Sitting blood pressure should not exceed 140/90
– Between 157-190 cm tall (roughly between 5’1″ – 6’1″)
– (More about Mars One Qualifications)

The colony will begin with four people arriving in about 2025, with groups of four arriving in two year intervals after that. What I love is that applications were open globally, allowing qualified candidates from any country to apply. And this quote from their website is totally amazing:

 

“Because this mission is humankind’s mission, Mars One has the intention to make this a democratic decision. The whole world will have a vote which group of four will be the first humans on Mars.”

 

Awesome, right??

Now, before the astronauts arrive, their living space will be set up by the rover. However, you might be wondering how they’ll get air, water, and food to survive. Well, they’ll use solar power to extract liquid water from martial soil that will be conserved/recycled as much as possible. Oxygen will be produced in the life support units by breaking apart water molecules to release oxygen and hydrogen. Finally, their food will all be grown on-site under special LEDs, presumably with plants to provide all the essential nutrients. Their current plans will sustain 12 people with no need for food deliveries from earth, which is pretty legit.

Here’s hoping whatever plants they make aren’t going to give them gas, because dang that living space is small.

The Mars One colony will be made of several landing modules connected together, with inflatable habitats for living and growing food. The inflatable portions will be covered with martian soil to protect the astronauts from radiation.

Some ethical controversy has arisen over the Mars One colonization plan because it’s a one-way ticket. The astonauts will never return to Earth. In my opinion, these are volunteers that have weighed the risks and still decided to proceed. The Mars One foundation openly acknowledged the ethics of their mission, and you can read their take on it here. Also, Buzz Aldrin (walked on the moon, if you didn’t know) discussed the topic during a Reddit Ask Me Anything:

“…There is very little doubt, in my mind, that what the next monumental achievement of humanity will be the first landing by an Earthling, a human being, on the planet Mars… the first human beings to land on Mars should not come back to Earth. They should be the beginning of a build-up of a colony / settlement, I call it a “permanence.” A settlement you can visit once or twice, come back, and then decide you want to settle. Same with a colony. But you want it to be permanent from the get-go, from the very first. I know that many people don’t feel that that should be done. Some people even consider it distinctly a suicide mission. Not me! Not at all.”

Buzz says deal with it.

However you feel about the ethics of such a mission, I think it’s safe to say the human race is on the brink of doing something spectacular. If Mars One succeeds, we will be a part of history. A global community able to VOTE for which lucky humans get to be the first to walk upon another planet. Now that is really something. 🙂

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From → SPACE

One Comment
  1. I would visit once the return trip is 50 days or less. No forests, oceans, blue sky, having to cover inflatable portions with dirt (what bout thick glass? I prefer seeing sky to darkness), etc. means I would not want to live there.

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