Would you like to live on Mars? You might be able to—in 10 years. A Dutch company named Mars One plans to put the first human beings on Mars by 2023.
The company wants to start the first permanent human colony on the Red Planet. According to the plan, the first four astronauts sent to Mars will begin setting up a new home for humanity. Then groups of people will be sent to Mars every two years.
Applicants must prove that they are healthy and happy. The company also asks that astronauts be no shorter than 5 feet 2 inches and no taller than 6 feet 3 inches. (And, of course, applicants must be at least 18 years old.) Each person is expected to create a one-minute video explaining why he or she wants to go to Mars.
Training for life on another planet will take a lot of work over many years. But so far, more than 10,000 amateur astronauts have said they will apply this summer.
“We expect a million applications,” says Bas Lansdorp, founder of Mars One.
STARTING A CIVILIZATION
The company plans to send a rover to the planet in 2018 to find the best place to start the settlement. Once this happens, ships carrying food, water, housing, and oxygen will be sent to Mars over the next four years. Finally, in 2022, the first four people who will set foot on Mars will leave Earth.
All this will cost an estimated $6 billion. That may sound like a lot of money, but it is actually cheaper than most planned missions to Mars. A project proposed in 2009 by NASA, the American space agency, to send astronauts to Mars and back would have cost $100 billion!
Why is the Mars One project expected to be so much cheaper? The astronauts are not coming back. The return flight to Earth makes current space missions much more expensive. Mars One plans to cut costs by not having to build a ship that can carry the massive amounts of fuel necessary to return to Earth.
“Since we started Mars One in March 2011, we received support from scientists, engineers, businessmen and women, and aerospace companies from all over the world,” says Lansdorp. “To see our mission evolve this way feels like my dream is becoming a reality.”