One-Way Mission to Mars
“Mars tugs at the human imagination like no other planet. With a force mightier than gravity, it attracts the eye to the shimmering red presence in the clear night sky…” ― John Noble Wilford, Mars Beckons
The countdown to humanity’s settlement on another planet begins now! A Dutch non-profit organization, named Mars One, is working on an ambitious project to construct a human colony on the surface of Mars. The main objective is to send four candidates to Mars and establish a settlement in the year 2023. The timeline goes as follows:
2013: Mars One will choose 40 applicants to begin their intense eight years of training in a location that will simulate the environment on Mars as close as planet Earth can provide. As these applicants prepare themselves, there will be a world-wide broadcast for the general public to view. Reality TV show actually worth watching?
2014: Preparations for the supply missions start here, as well as the construction of Mars communication satellite.
2016: Supplies are sent ahead and will land close to where the outpost is expected to be.
2018: A settlement rover is sent to the same general location of where the outpost will be and begin searching for an ideal place to start construction. The rover will have some autonomy, but there will be some instruction from an operator on Earth.
2021: Components (i.e. living quarters, life support, etc.) of the settlement and a second rover will reach Mars. The rovers will prepare for the coming of Team One.
2022: The first humans will be sent off to Mars. God speed!
2023: Team One will land on Mars! They immediately begin connecting their living quarters, setting up food production, and solar panels. Some weeks after the land, a third rover will arrive with additional provisions and supplies to begin preparation for Team Two.
2025: Team Two arrives! They contribute to the growth of the Mars settlement as well as humanity’s capacity for experimentation, exploration, and so on.
New teams will land on Mars about every two years, to expand the settlement, hopefully making it all more and more habitable for regular Joes and Janes to find new beginnings on a new planet.
Possibly the most interesting part of this story is that Mars One is not looking for brainiac scientists or engineers with Masters degrees or Ph.Ds to become an astronaut for this mission (though one would think it’d be a great help):
Mars One is looking for applicants who are both mature and interesting. Beyond Round Four,in the seven-year period preceding their flight to Mars,all the potential settlers will be given the skills they will need on Mars and on their journey there. No particular academic or professional background is considered a prerequisite for selection.
“Gone are the days when bravery and the number of hours flying a supersonic jet were the top criteria,” said Norbert Kraft, Mars One’s Chief Medical Director and former NASA senior researcher.
“For this mission of permanent settlement we are more concerned with how well each astronaut lives and works with others and their ability to deal with a lifetime of challenges.“
The first of four rounds of selection began on April 22, 2013 and has already received over 78,000 applications and counting. The first run will continue accepting interested applicants until August 31, 2013. From there, selection committees will narrow down the chosen to find who among them are most worthy to make up Team One. Be prepared for one hell of a fight, figuratively and maybe even literally.
There is one thing to keep in mind. This mission is a one-way trip. Because Mar’s gravity is 38% lighter than Earth’s, prolonged exposure will have a total physiological effect on the human body: reduction in bone density, muscle strength, and circulatory system capacity. While, yes, a cosmonaut was able to walk on Earth after spending 13 months in weightlessness, the Mars mission astronaut will be in space from 150 to 300 days just getting to the red planet. After that, it’s two years working on the settlement before the next passenger-carrying ship arrives. Then there’s the whole lack of fuel issue if one was allowed to fly back.
Then, after all have settled comfortably, we all know what will happen next: explorers find a strange artifact near the Deseado Crater, which then leads them to unearthing an underground ruin filled with alien tech and resources, thus jumping humanity’s technology and space exploration capabilities lightyears ahead. This then leads to humanity discovering an inactive Mass Effect relay. They soon catch the attention of the Turians, and BAM!, the First Contact War begins.
Or…We could see a fully terraformed crater on Mars like on Cowboy Bebop. Ooh, I wanna be a space cowboy when I grow up!