Recruits sought for a one-way voyage to Mars

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2013, 6:40am

In 1990's Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a simple directive to himself: "Get your ass to Mars." Now a Dutch company is promising to help real-world adventurers do just that.

The company, Mars One announced plans this week to establish a colony on Mars by 2023, and is about to begin looking for prospective Martian pioneers. The catch is that it will be a one-way ticket to the red planet.

While the requirements for Nasa's astronaut programme are demanding, assuring only the finest and fittest of humans will ever make it into space, Mars One is casting a wide net. Its requirements are resiliency, adaptability, curiosity, ability to trust, creativity and resourcefulness.

What about the ability to fly a spaceship or solve unforeseen, unimaginable problems caused by being one of the first humans on an alien planet? Those, evidently, are skills that one picks up with time.

Mars One only asks that applicants be at least 18, speak English and do not have any pressing business on earth - ever again.

After submitting themselves to the selection process, the chosen astronauts will then be entered into a full-time training programme that will prepare them for their blast-off date in 2022. In the meantime, Mars One plans to send preparatory probes and rovers with supplies to the planet as early as 2016. The first group of four colonists will follow a few years later, with a new team of colonists arriving every two years after that.

How does the group expect to fund this effort, which would surely cost in the multiple billions of dollars? Reality TV.

Mars One plans to televise every aspect of the mission. As the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Gerard 't Hooft says in Mars One's introductory video: "This is going to be a media spectacle. Big Brother will pale in comparison."

The Mars One project is the brainchild of Bas Lansdorp, an entrepreneur who founded the wind energy company Ampyx Power, and Arno Wielders, who works as a payload study manager for the European Space Agency. Far-fetched as its ambitions sound, the company's website features a roster of international scientists who are serving as advisers.

The Dutch team is not the only private mission with an eye on Mars. The former owner of PayPal and founder of Space X, Elon Musk, has also discussed his plans to establish a Mars colony in the next few decades.