Anyone who wants to “boldly go where no man has gone before,” please raise your hand. Mars One is currently taking applications for potential astronauts who want to go colonize Mars in 2023. Be warned; once you go to Mars, there will be no returning. It will be a one way trip.
This endeavor is to be completely funded by a private non-profit enterprise. No government funding will be involved. The financial model is one of a reality television show. The entire world will be watching the whole enterprise in a huge media spectacle. Corporate sponsorships and advertising will fund the project. That the colonization of Mars might be economically feasible at last is the most amazing part of this plan.
Mars One is not the only private mission to Mars. SpaceX, a supplier of Mars One, is also embarking on a Mars colonization project. SpaceX was the first private company to send a cargo payload to the International Space Station. The company’s Mars project will involve a ticket price of $500,000 for a one way trip to colonize Mars.
SpaceX is modifying their Falcon 9 rocket, which launched the Dragon spacecraft on its trip to the International space station, in order to conduct the Mars mission. The developing Raptor engine will use methane and oxygen as fuel to propel the rocket to the cosmos. The project is estimated to cost $36 billion, and is seeking to be partially funded by government investment. Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, estimates that .25%-.05% of a few Nation’s annual GDP, a few billion dollars, would be enough to help get the project off the ground and running.
The key technologies needed to make these projects economically viable are reusability of rockets and the nature of Mars itself. By some estimates, a round trip would cost as much as 10 times the amount of a one way journey. For this reason, those who volunteer to begin the colonization would be moving permanently.
Unlike the Moon, Mars is particularly suitable to colonization. Mars has all the raw materials required to support life. It has an atmosphere, wind, and clouds. The days are similar in length to Earth; 24 hours and 37 minutes. The carbon dioxide rich air provides the ability to grow plants with relative ease. You can grow earth plants in Mars’ soil with only a pressurized dome and a CO2 pump (and some fertilizer synthesized from Martian elements).
It is now a very real possibility that within the next decade, we will see humans walk on Mars. The process is already underway, spacecraft are being built, and astronaut training will begin soon.
In the words of John F. Kennedy, “as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”
Wired, Astronauts Needed for Mars Colony: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/01/mars-astronaut-requirements/?cid=5270194
Daily Mail, Billionaire Space Pioneer Announces Plan to Colonize Mars: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2238944/Elon-Musk-SpaceX-pioneer-wants-send-80-000-colonize-Mars-500-000-ticket.html
Upstart Business Journal, No Meat-Eaters on Mars, Says Elon Musk: http://upstart.bizjournals.com/entrepreneurs/hot-shots/2013/01/09/elon-musk-only-wants-vegetarians-on-mars.html?page=all
Discovery, 5 Hurdles to Conquer Before Colonizing Mars: http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/5-hurdles-conquer-before-colonizing-mars.htm
Mars One: http://mars-one.com/en/