Mars: The Final Frontier

mars

Within the past several years, space exploration has gotten a substantial boost in public interest. While there is no longer a “space race” between communism and democracy to fuel interests, space exploration has still captured the world’s attention.

In April 2013, a call for volunteers was issued by a private company separate from NASA to send a team of human beings to Mars to begin colonization, a trip that would be a one way ticket. Over 200,000 people applied for the program, and through various screening processes the number of potential “Mars Mission One” candidates has now been brought down to 100.

This mission truly weeds out people based on their dedication to exploring outer space, which needs to be proven as they’re giving up their life on Earth and choosing to die as Martians on the Red Planet. The questions have yet to be answered as to what happens if a woman is impregnated and gives birth on Mars, but it’s better to cover every other aspect before the possibilities of reproduction can be addressed.

Their general mission plan is to “establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Crews of four will depart every two years, starting in 2024. Our first unmanned mission will be launched in 2018.”
Mars One isn’t the only program currently planning on going to Mars; NASA is also planning manned missions, and their hope is to have men on mars in the 2030’s.

In 2020 NASA is launching the Mars Rover to seek out signs of past life on mars, about two years after the planned Mars One unmanned mission. This timeline raises question if the Mars One mission is getting ahead of itself in its mission planning, or if their lack of relying on government funding means they are simply better equipped to achieve these missions ahead of NASA.

Apart from the various Mars missions currently in the works, Google has issued a challenge to all participants to be the first team to send a privately funded robot to the moon. Dubbed the “Google Lunar XPRIZE”, the competition’s goal is to open a new time era of space travel, by significantly lowing the cost of accessibility to both the Moon and space.

The winner of the grand prize will win twenty million dollars. To win this grand prize, private teams (with no higher amount than 10 percent funding from the government) must land a robot safely on the Moon. They must then make a move of 500 meters surrounding the Moon’s surface (above, on, or below) and proceed to send back “Mooncasts”, in HDTV quality for everyone down below to enjoy. The deadline to meet all of these requirements is December 31, 2016.

Currently there are 33 teams competing for the grand prize, 13 of which are based out of the United States. Apart from the $20 million prize, over $6 million in prizes have already been awarded for various “milestone” competitions. These included what were the best propulsion systems, imaging systems, and how the mobility of the robots planning to be sent to the moon actually work. Vice President and chairman of X Prize gave the statement that as well as the technological breakthroughs demonstrated by the aforementioned prize, an equally important goal is also present; this is to encourage inspiring engineers, space explorers, and young scientists.

Indeed, more than half the world’s population has never had the opportunity to experience a live broadcast from the moon. Partnering with Discovery Channel and Science Channel will allow for the public to be engaged around this milestone event, creating an “Apollo Moment’ for the next generation.”

With all the talk of Alien Life over the past several decades, it seems a strange change of pace for individuals to get to see legitimate space missions taking place throughout the world. It potentially will make one feel excited as a human being that they, as well as any children they may have, will be able to watch footage directly from the moon just their parents and grandparents did. As an added bonus, they will all be able to experience together seeing human beings land on the planet of Mars.

By Benjamin Johnson

Sources:
Space.com
MarsOne
NASA
Google Lunar XPRIZE
Photo by NASA – License

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