Mars One, a Dutch company, has begun its search for volunteers to fly and live on the red planet – but it’s a one-way trip.
At a press conference in New York City on Monday, the company’s CEO Bas Lansdorp announced an open call for anyone to apply for the flight, knowing that they will never be able to return home. The mission will be one-way only because there currently is no technology that would enable a return trip from Mars to Earth.
“Today, the Mars One foundation starts the search for Mars inhabitants. The search for people from all nations who want to settle on Mars. Mars One is a non profit organisation that is working on landing the first crew on Mars in 2023 and another crew every two years after that,” he said.
The plan, Lansdorp explained, is to send four astronauts to Mars with the goal of establishing a permanent human colony.
Takeoff, landing and various parts of the mission will be streamed on the internet, and viewed by 4bn people, according to Lansdorf’s estimate. Anyone can apply for the mission, though there is an application fee that will go towards the estimated $6 billion required to fund the mission.
Applicants must be between 18-40 years of age and in good physical condition. Good people and survival skills and reasonable grasp of the English language are also required.
Mars One plans to train the team for seven years before the flight, which will take seven months to reach the red planet.
Asked if he thinks it is ethical to send people on a one way journey to Mars, Lansdorp called the mission “idealistic” and “something that can truly change the Earth.”
Two males and two females
The Netherlands-based non-profit plans to send new missions thereafter every two years, with the second crew joining in 2025.
Each flight will carry two males and two females, but Lansdorp said Mars One was not requiring anyone to take fertility tests.
“These people will be living on Mars in a very small environment with just four people. It will be a dangerous environment and any prospective parent should always ask themselves is this the right time and place for me to have children,” he said. “These are responsible people that we are sending to Mars.”
The biggest challenge Lansdorp foresees is gathering and maintaining funding for the mission.
When they arrive on Mars, Lansdorp explained that there will be a habitable settlement already there. The living quarters will be prepared by robotic missions that go to the red planet ahead of the astronauts.
The living quarters will have exercise equipment and will be wired so the astronauts can communicate with family members on Earth via internet and a technology similar to Skype – albeit with delays that could be anywhere from six to 20 minutes long.
They will also have internet and television access.
The organisation said it had already received inquiries from 10,000 prospective applicants in more than 100 countries.