Planet perjurers

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Would you drop everything to go live on Mars? Yesterday, my younger brother informed me that a not-for-profit Dutch foundation, Mars One, is accepting applicants from around the world to be the first human colonizers of Mars.

I chuckled. Yes, I watch Doctor Who, and I love Star Trek, but the actual reality of another human civilization on Mars — is that really so close in our future? The organization claims it is.

The Mars One mission will send crews of four every two years starting in 2024, with the first unmanned mission starting in just four years — 2018! Applicants have been submitting and posting videos of themselves stating why they feel they should go to Mars, all of which are visible on the organization’s website, www.mars-one.com.

Funding is being provided by donations made to the organization through an independent fundraising site, and potentionally by the creation of a reality television series based on the lives of the first Mars colonizers. A living environment will be built on the planet for the soon-to-be martians by rovers and cargo missions being sent up in coming years.

I feel a bit skeptical about this whole movement, however. Massive groups of people are donating money to fund a propagated mission to Mars via an independent fundraising site? Why have I never heard of this before?

In addition, their fundraising goal is currently only $400,000 in total. That would be nice to personally receive, but is hardly feasible for a credible space exploration. So who would apply to a recently created and generally unknown space trip with a guaranteed no-return agenda?

$400,000 would be nice to personally receive, but is hardly feasible for a credible space exploration.

Apparently Joanna Hindle, an English teacher from Whistler, would. She is one out of 75 Canadians and over 1000 global competitors that has been chosen to go on to the next stage of the application process. Other known successful applicants include third-year physics student Ryan MacDonald, aged 20, science technician Alison Rigby, aged 33, and a 23-year old PhD student, Maggie Lieu.

All participants seemed to be enthused about the opportunity, but some share my hesitation about the reality of leisure space travel. Lieu, for instance, stated in an interview with The Guardian that the trip “is definitely feasible but delays are pretty much inevitable. So we will be able to go to Mars one day, but on this timescale? I’m not so sure.”

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, is also skeptical about the idea. He said, “I don’t think there’s that much technology that indicates that the Mars One corporation, with over 150,000 people applying, really knows how to get four people to Mars by 2023 [sic], even if they don’t bring them back.”

Despite their dubious nature, the Mars One corporation has just confirmed partnerships with two companies: Lockheed Martin, which will provide a robotic landing device for the event, and Surrey Satellites, which will provide a communications satellite, according to Mars One.

Despite the general lack of public support and my own questions on the reality of this mission coming to fruition, I am hopeful that Mars One is a success. If anything, it looks like this may be one small step for mankind, and one huge leap for reality television.