Dutch startup plans to colonize Mars by 2023

By Chelsea Whyte on June 5, 2012 3:23 PM EDT

mars one
A rendering of the living units that await Mars One colonists. (Photo: Mars One)

Forget Newt Gingrich's moon colony. A company called Mars One is planning an endeavor to go much farther afield.

The Dutch startup plans to establish a colony on the Red Planet by 2023, according to the Mars One website. It may seem outlandish, but the company and its supporters say getting colonists to Mars is feasible, especially since they don't plan to bring anyone back.

Colonists will stay on Mars the rest of their lives, removing the troublesome challenges of returning to Earth once they've landed. It's this simplified mission that convinced Nobel prize-winning physicist Gerard 't Hooft that the Mars One plan might just work.

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"The aspect that made all the previous plans so unbelievably expensive and complex, was the uncompromising condition that all Mars travelers must return back to Earth. A return journey would demand launching techniques and maneuvers that have not been properly investigated, and would double, triple, quadruple the price," said t' Hooft on the Mars One website.

Even so, establishing a permanent colony on another planet isn't cheap. Mission leader Bas Lansdorp says Mars One will avoid expensive research and testing by using only previously tested technologies, which will keep costs down to about $6 billion for the first settlement of four astronauts, according to New York Daily News.

But the obvious question remains: how do they plan to pay for it?

The company's website says that media coverage is "a vital component of Mars One's plan." In what may become the first interplanetary reality TV show, they plan to turn the astronaut selection, training, and mission completion into a media spectacle. Big Brother creator Paul Römer is on board to turn the entire process into a media event.

"The concept of a 'one-way' mission is both outrageous and exciting," said Römer. "These aspects are what brought me to the idea of making the mission the biggest media event in the world. Reality meets talent show with no ending and the whole world watching. Now there's a pitch!"

Mars One plans to make this live feed available to the world, and solicit help with decisions as the teams of settlers are selected, trained, and finally as they arrive and set up a home on Mars, reports the Daily Mail.

Mars One will begin astronaut selection next year and spend the following decade training to send crews of four every two years on a one-way ticket to Mars. There will be a total of 40 astronauts selected and they'll train in a replica of the Mars settlement in deserts on Earth.

Before astronauts take off on the seven-month journey to Mars, an ambitious timeline of preparation missions will make a piece of the dusty Martian landscape ready for its new citizens. Starting in 2016, supply vessels, solar panels and living infrastructure will be delivered, and in 2018 a rover will comb the landscape for prime locations to place the colony.

"This is something that has amazing historic value--the transformation of humanity from a single planet species to a multiplanet species," Dr. Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society and author of "The Case For Mars," told The Huffington Post.

"You only live once," he said. "To have the chance to do something like this is profound."

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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