Mars One: Would You Go?
Mars One: Would You Go?
If you had the option of a one way ticket to Mars, would you accept?
Mars One, a not-for-profit Dutch organisation hoping to colonise Mars, has recently sifted through 200,000 applications to select 100 hopeful candidates, all of whom are desperate to obtain one of the four hallowed places on the first Mars Mission taking place in 2025. If all goes well, four more people will be sent up every two years after, in order to grow the human colony. The process will be televised for us earthlings.
These budding “Marstronauts” are coming from all corners of the world to be propelled onto the red planet. With 38 selected candidates, the US has the largest number of contenders, closely followed by 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa and 7 from Australia. One aspiring astronaut is St Louisian Maggie Duckworth who has made headlines by expressing her willingness to have a child during her time in Mars, in order to help advances in scientific research. Oxford University physics student Ryan McDonald is, at 21, the youngest candidate, and seems to be particularly concerned about how the Mars mission is putting paid to his love life here on earth. He says that girls don’t seem to be reacting very well when he says in ten years he’ll be leaving this planet. That certainly brings a new meaning to long distance relationships! McDonald has, however, said he’s open to the idea of an extra-terrestrial relationship. Perhaps he might find love with British PhD student Maggie Lieu, another Mars hopeful. She defends the controversial “shock to the world” mission by explaining that it’s just like any other technological advance, most of which are initially met with scrutiny but become accepted over the years. Our very own iPhones are a prime example.
Nevertheless, leading space scientists are describing the project as a “suicide mission”, with studies revealing that the explorers would likely survive a mere 68 days. Director of the UK National Space Academy Programme, Anu Ojha OBE, has warned candidates not to get their hopes up that the mission will ever get off the ground. He explains, in rather fun-sucker fashion, that despite it being a great PR project which has understandably captured the public’s interest and imagination, “space engineering obeys the laws of physics not PR”.
His realism is reminiscent of childhood excitement about building a treehouse, only to be told by a parent that the trees were too weak, or the weather too cold. But, as was the case back then, the parent was inevitably, and frustratingly, right. Ojha has pointed out that Mars One is trying to colonise the planet on a much tighter timescale and much smaller budget than that even of NASA who, despite their long established expertise in the business, envisage sending humans to Mars and back again in 2035 at the earliest, with a budget ten times the size of Mars One’s.
To add fuel to the fire, Mars One currently plans to finance the project solely on TV rights, claiming that the whole world will watch the series when it’s broadcast. But science television broadcaster Dr Christopher Riley points out that the mere costs of televising the process would far outweigh the profits from TV rights and that “that’s where the idea falls down”.
The Mars One project is undeniably fantastic in the way it challenges us to think about the future and the new experiences we can pioneer for ourselves, thanks to ground-breaking scientific research. It reminds us that we really do live in a world of endless opportunity, if we just plan and prepare in the right way. Unfortunately however, Mars One’s technical and financial planning seem to be on a rather naive “wing and a prayer” basis. This lack of preparation may be excusable in itself, but not when it juggles human life and psychological well-being in the way that this project does.
Anna is currently spending the fourth year of her Law degree in France, studying for a Masters in French Law at the University of Rennes. She is slightly obsessed with learning languages, having knowledge of French, Spanish, Portuguese and a little Russian under her belt so far. Alongside her studies, Anna tutors English to foreign students. Fascinated by different cultures and how they interlink, Anna recently took herself off to live in Morocco for a month. In her minimal spare time, Anna likes to read, run, eat, go to church, travel, discover beautiful countryside and improve her classical singing. She also believes that, in the words of Newton Faulkner, people should smile more.