The latest trimming of the list of Mars One hopefuls has sparked a new media blitz of postings on the topic. The Dutch-based venture is, at the time of writing, down to a relatively meager 705 candidates. A major focus of the pieces is just who is going to be represented in this first visit of humanity to the red planet, a visit which seems likely to be one way. Regardless of who makes the final trip, Mars One has sparked hopes and dreams about the future of humanity and space travel.
Of the original 200,000 who applied, a mere 24 will be heading to Mars starting in the near future. They will leave the Earth behind with no planned return trip due to the sheer logistical challenges of making it to another planet. Despite this relatively dire situation, there has been an electric level of excitement amongst both those dreaming of heading to Mars and those who are merely witnesses to this latest attempt at human greatness.
At this time, Mars One is discussing whether the interviews, the next step in the process for those who have made it thus far, will be televised. Each individual who has submitted their name has their own feelings on the situation, ranging from trepidation regarding the possibility of being televised to elation at sharing this unique moment with the rest of humanity. The application process requires that all applicants be willing to share their process with television crews.
Mars One is currently operating as a not-for-profit with the goal of establishing a permanent settlement on Mars. They have assured all the applicants that communication with home will not be a problem. The final goal of the project is to select a team of international would-be Martians to be the first of us to call the red planet home. Currently funded by private donations, the entire mission currently is reporting a $6 billion price tag. NASA has reported that a mission to Mars would cost $100 billion, leading many to speculate that this project may be more publicity and boasts than actually being at all viable.
Much of the coverage on the program has been in regards to the international nature of the applicants. Each of the 100 nations who had applicants representing them seem to hope that they have representation on this project.
The somewhat terrifying and yet undeniably wonderful opportunity that Mars One represents is something that humanity has not really felt since at least the previous century: that of true wonder and excitement at the prospect of adventure. Though there are new scientific discoveries nearly every day, it is the advent of exploring a new planet in person that sparks the imagination of people around the world.
Even if the entire project is the sham that some fear it is, the fact that thousands of people submitted applications, even if they were not all the most serious, presents the simple truth that humanity desires to reach out to the skies and explore. Letting loose the shackles upon our imaginations, looking towards the future, and asking what if? The Mars One team dreams that they will have people on the red planet by 2024, time will tell if they are right.
By Tyler Omichinski