Mars One continues the selection process for planet pioneers to be the first colonists on the Red Planet. Mars One, a non-profit based venture led by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, plans to send the first colony of Mars explorers by 2024- 2025. The expedition was announced in 2012 and in 2013; the selection process began by accepting applicants for the one-way ticket to Mars. The selection process gathered a reported 200,000 applicants.
The organization has announced that the first round is complete and 1,058 of the applicants have passed the initial selection process and will move to the next phase. Lansdorp stated that he was pleased and overwhelmed by the volume of applications that were received. He indicated that the first round selection process included a short video from each applicant explaining why they felt they should be the first Mars pioneers. Mars One finalists will continue the selection process by stricter criteria and finally through a reality-television series as their physical, emotional and mental capabilities are tested for the rigors of Martian life.
The second round applicants will be analyzed for medical strengths and weaknesses and participate in in-depth interviews by local selection committees. The third round phase will involve a reality-television setting where regional groups of candidates will participate in solo and team challenges that might be encountered on Mars. The groups will be reduced to groups of 20-40 candidates. Mars One will continue the selection process for planet pioneers until a qualified group reaches a global audience. Mars One will introduce the final candidates to Mars-like environments where the world will watch and be involved in selecting the few finalists who will likely be the first to step foot on the red soil of Mars.
However, John Spencer of the Space Tourism Society feels that Mars One is way in over their heads. Spencer said that many companies have attempted a trip to Mars but hit hurdles when it came to finances and rocket engine testing. He indicated that billions of dollars would be required to get a mission off the ground. While Spencer did say that Mars One has proven that there is a global interest in going to Mars, he didn’t expect Mars One to last more than a couple of years.
Sentiment of this nature does not seem to be slowing down the Mars One expedition. The organization is preparing to send rovers ahead of the team to begin testing and preparation of the colony area by 2018. Lockheed Martin has been contracted to begin the development of the landing rover. Ed Sedivy, chief engineer for civil space at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, said that Lockheed Martin was excited to be a part of the project. Sedivy recently stated that Lockheed Martin had already begun working on the mission concept based upon the Lockheed-built successful Phoenix Mars Lander model that arrived on Mars in 2007.
British-based Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, known as SSTL, has also been contracted to create concept designs to provide relay communication from Mars to Earth. Martin Sweeting, executive chairman of SSTL, recently stated that the project gives SSTL the opportunity to take its tested approach and apply it to Mars One’s challenge of sending humans to Mars.
These contracts cover concept designs; the technical schematics, construction, and launch details would come through latter deals. Lansdorp expressed that he was thrilled to have these two companies on the Mars One team. He added that their expertise and track record in the field would be a valuable component in the historic accomplishment of landing private spacecraft on Mars.
Some detractors like Spencer consider Mars One to be a ‘flight of fancy’ with too much science fiction and not enough science fact. But Mars One has one proponent who is a major force in the scientific community. That proponent, Dr. Gerard ‘t Hooft, is a professor, Nobel Prize winner, and a theoretical physicist who has received numerous honorary doctorates and received the Spinozapremie prize, the highest scientific award given in the Netherlands.
Dr. ‘t Hooft was at first a skeptic but after reviewing the Mars One plan calls the program not only a daring initiative with vision and imagination but achievable. He analyzed the 4-part plan and finds its problems solvable and the project’s goals within science fact. While Mars One continues its selection process for planet pioneers, scientists like Dr. ‘t Hooft are zeroing in on a plan that makes scientific sense on many levels. Dr. ‘t Hooft finds the plan is simple in scope, and the cost is greatly reduced as return trips are ruled out by a one-way concept. Private financing is involved, thereby removing the political agendas and financial restraints of government bodies and the inevitable media spectacle will generate untold amounts of revenue. Imagine the sponsorship dollars a corporation would be willing to provide for brand placement in front of a global audience.
Mars One plans to place planet pioneers on the red planet and, as the selection process continues, the organization is positioning itself for what may not only be a media spectacle but a defining moment in history. The endeavors of Mars One bring to mind a certain movie quote: “Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow”- Men in Black.
Written by Anthony Clark