The Netherlands usually gets mentioned in conversations about tulips, cheese, and windmills… but it seems another topic might soon join the mix. Mars One, a non-profit organization (we touched upon them briefly in our previous Mars coverage) founded by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, is closing its registration round for people who are interested in a one-way ticket to Mars as soon as 2023. And you bet that many are interested… within two weeks of its launch, the selection programme received more than 78,000 registrations and to date around 165,000 applications have signed up. So one might wonder, what drives these people to sign up for something they know will mean they will never see family and friends again?
Well, according to the trailer for One Way Astronaut – a documentary about those determined to throw it all away in the hopes of becoming the first human off world settlers – “you’re just never going to know what you’re going to find” while exploring the environment. To many it is a dream, born out of their childhood imagination. Curiosity killed the cat as they say, but it won’t stop these applicants from following their dreams. As the foundation puts it: “Human settlement of Mars is the next giant leap for humankind.” and it would be hard to find anyone who would contest that this feat would be right up there with the moon landing, the discovery of America, and so on as an event that will go into the history books as defining for our species.
For most, 2023 might sound like a very ambitious date but then one cannot underestimate the drive and determination of humankind to explore. The Mars One foundation is not looking to develop its own technology to accomplish its mission, because the private space industry already invented what is needed to go to Mars they claim. After the first missions make sure that supplies are available and a reliable surface habitat is set up before the first crew lands, more settlers and cargo will then follow every two years. This will of course cost a heavy sum, around the $6 billion mark in fact, which Lansdorp says will be funded primarily through a reality-TV program about about the red planet’s first colonists. And just when you thought we would some day see the end of “Big Brother”…
“Mars is the stepping stone of the human race on its voyage into the universe.”
You know, they might be on to something.