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The Upshot

Mars One: One-way ticket to the red planet

The Upshot


It sounds like a science-fiction fantasy, but the company Mars One says it's for real—and that it will really establish a settlement on the planet Mars by 2023.

The privately financed Dutch company has a plan. All it needs is a lot of cash, equipment and four Mars-bound astronauts who are willing to take a one-way trip to the red planet.

The idea is to first send rovers, which will stake out a good site for a settlement and then build out living units. In 2022, the crew will take a "transit habitat" for the seven-month trip to Mars and settle in to their new home. The intention is that the crew will live on the planet for the rest of their lives. Every two years after that, another group will join the settlement to populate the colony.

Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp has a very modern approach to funding the project: media exposure. "We will finance this mission by creating the biggest media event ever around it." He said in a company video, adding, "Everybody in the world can see everything that will happen in the preparations and on Mars."

Think of it as a "Big Brother" for outer space. Lansdorp explained to Yahoo! News, "This would be 'real' reality TV -- adventure is automatically included, we don't have to add fake challenges." He added, "By sending a new crew every two years, Mars will have a real, growing settlement of humans -- who would not like to follow that major event in human history?"

Who, indeed? The other-worldly idea has certainly intrigued the Web. The Mars One video has received over 232,000 views on YouTube since it launched less than a week ago.

Beyond entertainment, some scientists certainly seem intrigued by the possibility of interplanetary travel. Theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner Gerard 't Hooft, a "mission ambassador" for Mars One, endorses the plan. He says, "This project seems to be the only way to fulfill humanity's dream to explore outer space. It's going to be an exciting experiment."

Next year, according to its website, the company will begin an astronaut selection process. Those who have the right stuff will then undergo a decade of preparation. And, we assume, the Mars travelers will be ready for their out-of-this-world close-up.

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