That’s the opportunity a private sector Dutch company called Mars One is offering to would-be astronauts. They plan to establish a permanent colony on Mars in little more than a decade from now. Mars One believes that the technology needed for such a mission is already available, and the planning required to make it happen is already under way.
When will it happen?
Liftoff of the first manned flight to the Red Planet is scheduled for 2026. The company expects to send up an unmanned mission in 2024 to pre-position supplies that will be needed to allow the first settlers to start building a permanent Martian habitat. Then, two years later, the first of a planned succession of astronaut/colonist crews will take off for the planet.
Each crew will consist of two men and two women, though the company says it will not send couples. The plan is to found a Mars colony that will grow as additional crews are sent from earth. Once the first settlers have been successfully established on the planet, new crews will be launched every 26 months.
If this sounds intriguing to you, you should know there is one slight catch – the trip is strictly one-way.
If you go to Mars, you’ll never come back!
Mars One has built its aggressive plan around the fact that the most complex and expensive part of any Mars mission would be the return to this planet. Bringing a crew back home would require launch capabilities on Mars that would be far more difficult to achieve than was the initial launch from Earth.
So, Mars One has decided to simply eliminate the requirement of having to bring crews back to this planet. That means that if you become a Martian colonist, you’ll be one for the rest of your life. The company has already thought about what happens to you after that. “It’s likely that there will be a crematorium,” says CEO Bas Lansdorp. “It’s up to the people on Mars to decide what to do with their dead.”
An extensive training regime is planned for those selected to be colonists. The astronauts will be enrolled in a full time, paid program designed to give them the skills needed both for the seven to eight month space trip to Mars, and for building a livable habitat once they arrive. On each mission, at least two crew members will be proficient at operating and repairing every piece of equipment. In addition, at least two members of the crew will have advanced medical training that should enable them to handle any health issues that might arise.
200,000 have already applied
If you’re still interested in being a Martian, you’ll need to wait in line. More than 200,000 people had already applied when the first round of applications was closed in August of 2013. Mars One promises that other opportunities to become a Martian will be opened in the future.
Ron Franklin is a pastor, writer, radio broadcaster and producer, computer programmer, and musician. Now the founding pastor of Covenant Community Church in Harrisburg, PA, he was an engineer and manager for high-tech companies such as IBM and EDS. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Denver Theological Seminary.