August 6, 2013
Volunteer Mars Colonists Gather In D.C.
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Forty of the volunteers chosen to take a one-way trip to the Red Planet gathered in Washington, DC yesterday to hear Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp explain his plans to build a permanent base on Mars by 2023. Should Lansdorp succeed in raising the necessary $6 billion to send these volunteers to Earth's neighbor, they'll embark on a seven-month, one-way journey to set up the planet's first colony.
Lansdorp's non-profit organization, called Mars One, first plans to establish a communications satellite on Mars in 2016 before sending out the volunteers in groups of four. Every two years new groups will be sent to live and ultimately die on Martian soil. Two of the volunteers who have applied to go to Mars say they're excited to discover new lands and open up exploration for future generations.
"How could you not be excited?" said Michael Tamits, an 18-year old volunteer from Australia, speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald. "This is without doubt the most ambitious life endeavor known to man."
Christine Rambo, a 38-year-old student librarian from New Jersey told the AFP she feels like Columbus discovering America for the first time.
"It is so exciting and such a great achievement, I want to be a part of it."
Mars One was introduced last June by Lansdorp, a researcher from the Netherlands with a Masters in Science from Delft University of Technology. Once the first human colony is built on Mars in 2023, the volunteer astronauts will begin building an environment for themselves and incoming colonials as well as looking for signs of life on the Red Planet.
Mars One began taking applications this year for volunteer astronauts, and the criteria to be selected for the mission are generally easy to meet. Applicants only need to be 18 years of age and have what Space One calls a "deep sense of purpose," and a "willingness to build and maintain healthy relationships."
The group even makes a point to say they aren't looking for people with specific skill sets, noting that they'll train the right volunteers for eight years before they venture off into space. Though they're currently taking applications for volunteer astronauts, the final selections will not be made until next year. To raise awareness for the mission, the volunteers will be selected during a reality TV broadcast.
Lansdorp told the AFP that Mars One hasn't yet raised all of the $6 billion it will take to embark on this mission. Applicants must pay $30 to be considered and the organization is selling merchandise (hoodies, shirts, mugs, etc) to help them towards their goal. Though he didn't say how much money they've raised, he did say more than 78,000 people have volunteered to die on Mars.
The prospect sounds grim enough, but Tamits says he doesn't mind the idea of spending the rest of his young days living his life on Martian soil.
"I'd rather die looking upon Earth from outer space than to be on my deathbed thinking I could have had my chance."