How about the chance to become the first human on Mars? You can, thanks to a venture called Mars One by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp. His plan is to get the first human settlement on Mars in the year 2023. Anyone gets to apply to join the crew but with a two catches. You’re going to be on a Big Brother type reality show but who cares because you probably won’t be coming back to Earth.
Staring in 2010 then becoming an official not for profit foundation in Oct 2012. Mars One brainchild of Bas Lansdorp a Mechanical Engineer together with Co-Founder & Technical Director Arno Wielders. Wielders an experienced Physicist, Engineer and Instrument Scientist have gathered a team of advisors to do this. Including all types of aerospace, planetary and medial engineering researchers and many others with long lists of job experiences. They have come up with a feasible plan to get to Mars on a one way ticket. Planing and pulling of a return trip with current technology exacerbates the cost beyond the realm of plausible. Instead they decided to Plan a permanent settlement with the first humans landing in September 2023.
So How are the going to do it? Robots, at least at first. With the astronaut application process opening sometime this year. They plan to begin work on the first supply drop and communications satellite in 2014. Launching in January 2016 then arriving later that year in October. This first cargo drop would carry general supplies, solar energy converters, and spare parts. Landing somewhere near the location of the final settlement. The next drop in 2018 would be a semi-autonomous rover. Tasked with the job of plotting the final settlement location and beginning construction of the site. By 2021 six living pods and one more rover will have all arrived. With two pods each for life-support, living quarters and storage all assembled together by the rovers. By 2022 all environment and water production functions would be operational. Then with the green light, launch of the first four colonist arriving the following year in 2023. Sending an additional four every two years after that.
Seem like a long shot? Maybe, but only in terms of cost. All of the planning is based on current technology. With every component needed already having at least one potential supplier. With signed letters of intent and interest from those companies. What is really interesting about this project is its private nature. They are seeking private investors who want to make money. None of this would be government funded or influenced. Not having government involvement is very important when trying to actually accomplish anything. Any libertarian will tell you the best methods are always free markets. Now, how could this make money? The most obvious way is from media & ad revenue. But there is always money to be made in science and innovation. Just ask Astroglide inventor Daniel Wray who, “formulated it while working on the cooling system of a space shuttle” Whenever you’re the first to tap a market there is always room for huge gain.
Everyone was glued to their TVs for the moon landings. Today something like that has a way broader media potential. Just look at NASA JPL’s Mars Curiosity rover landing event. Having a massive number of online viewers and a Facebook page with over 500k likes. Constant 24/7 live streams beginning with the first satellite in 2016. Not only would create be the next generation reality TV. But pulling it off, proves the technology. That’s the crack in the damn that leads to a flood of innovation and the incredible advances to our standard of living here on Earth. A breakthrough in one field of research or engineering can be proliferated and applied in many other areas. I think we were all a little disheartened to see NASA close the shuttle program. Private endeavors like this gives me renewed hope in space exploration. The the hardest challenges to overcome are the ones that pay off the most. This has potential value in every conceivable market including, energy, medicine, space tourism, general engineering and technology. Just like playing an instrument one has to do it to get better at it. You have to ask the question of how can we do this, before you can hope to see whats possible.
Stepping off this pale blue dot is a little startling to think about. Even just leaving the planet, let alone never coming back. But what’s more incredible to think about is the ultimate adventure that would be in store. Which has already attracted over 8,000 volunteers says CBC News recently. People have sailed seas to colonize lands without the intent to return. But this is space, the final frontier. Once we get this down with any sort of consistency we are on a wholly new playing field as a species. The astronauts would be trained in the years while the preparation missions are conducted. Knowing full well they may never come back to their home-world. With all the economic turmoil happening looking to the future is difficult at best. If we can free our markets, cut spending and deregulate. We could allow for companies to make this innovation possible. With a snowball effect in space travel technology who knows whats in store for us. The cheaper and cheaper the technology gets. The more and more innovation you see because its in more peoples hands. Then who knows how easy it might get to plan return missions.
All of these concepts space colonies and free trade may seem far off. But supporting and investing in private ventures in space travel is the only way we can hope to experience it. We’ll all benefit from the standard of living that increases parallel with the technology. But the investors, entrepreneurs and tech companies are in line to win the most. If they can be the first to tap the space travel technology market and boldly go where no man has gone before.
Jon can be found @ALibertySeeker