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Mars One Colony Scheme Features Aggressive Schedule, Low Cost Estimate

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According to Space.com, a Dutch nonprofit company called Mars One is now accepting applications for the first Mars colonists. These colonists would travel to Mars and live there for the rest of their lives.

Requirements to be a Mars colonist

Space.com reports that applicants must be over the age of 18, though there is no maximum age. There are no requirements for technical skill or restrictions on nationality, religion, ethnic origin, or gender. Successful applicants will have to learn English. An application fee, based on the per capita income of the applicants country of origin, $5 to $75, is imposed.

Plans for Mars colonization

The plan to build a Mars colony has a very aggressive schedule. Mars One has started Mars colonist selection this year. It also plans to build a simulated Mars settlement in an inhospitable part of the world to simulate, as much as possible, conditions on the Red Planet.

In 2014 the company plans to start preparing for the first supply missions as well as the production of a Mars communications satellite.

In 2016 Mars One plans to start launching supplies for the Mars colony to Mars, to be pre-positioned at the planned site.

In 2018 a Rover would be landed to scout out the location of the Mars colony.

By 2021 the infrastructure of the Mars colony is planned to be in place.

In 2022 the production of oxygen and water would begin and the first crew of four Mars colonists would be launched.

The first Mars colonists would land in 2023 and would commence outfitting the Mars colony and to receive further supply shipments.

The second team of four Mars colonists arrive in 2025 with subsequent teams to arrive every 26 months.

The costs of a Mars colony

The Space.com story states that Mars One plans to spend $6 billion through the landing of the first Mars colonists and $4 billion for each subsequent voyage. Thus far it is raising money through donations, application fees, and the sale of merchandise. Mars One plans a reality show to generate more revenue.

According to the Mars Society, costs of a conventional Mars mission, which would involve the return of human explorers, range from a high of $450 billion estimate for President George H. W. Bush's 1990s era space exploration initiative, which also included a lunar base, to $30 billion for the Mars Direct plan advocated by the Mars Society. The cost of the current Mars Curiosity rover is pegged at $2.5 billion, according to a story in Space.com.

Mark R. Whittington is the author of Children of Apollo, The Last Moonwalker, and Dreams of Barry's Stepfather. He has written on space subjects for a variety of periodicals, including The Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, USA Today, the L.A. Times, and The Weekly Standard.

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