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by Launchspace Staff
Bethesda MD (SPX) May 16, 2013
The Website, Mars-One.com has posted an interesting Want Ad: "Mars 2023: Inhabitants Wanted - Mars One will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. We invite you to participate by sharing our vision with your friends, and, perhaps, by becoming the next Mars astronaut yourself."
In 2011, two Dutch entrepreneurs founded the Mars One venture with the goal of establishing a human settlement on Mars by 2023. During their first year several other adventurers joined the founders to develop a feasibility study, with inputs from many space agencies and private aerospace corporations from around the world. This study addressed technical, financial, social-psychological and ethical issues.
Mars One has launched an Astronaut Selection Program that is open to anyone in the world. A recent report indicated that more than 78,000 people have applied to be planetary travelers. However, this fledgling entrepreneurship plans to start by sending only four people to Mars every two years. The first flight is planned to depart Earth in April 2023.
Such a proposed concept immediately brings up several questions. First, and possibly foremost, is the issue of paying for the whole thing. Mars One hopes to fund the adventure primarily through a lucrative reality television show that will follow the astronauts on their solar system travels.
Who knows? Concepts used in other reality shows such as Big Brother, The Amazing Race, The Apprentice and The Real Housewives of Atlanta might be combined to create "The Amazing Race of Mars Bound Apprentices." Please send any other ideas for a name to Launchspace.
There is no doubt that this would be a popular show. But, what kind of revenue can be generated? Recent history of the most popular reality shows tells us that potential profits to TV networks range in the tens-of-millions to about a quarter of a billion.
Based on this, let's assume Mars One gets a hundred million dollars a year. This sounds like a good deal of money, but travel to Mars, even though one-way, is easily in the billions.
Other sources of income are donations and merchandise sales. Check out the site to find Mars One T-shirts, coffee mugs and posters for sale. To date, total sales and donations exceed $84,000.
This is not enough to build a Mars-bound spacecraft, but it is a good start for making public announcements. Finally, there is an astronaut application fee reported to be between $5 and $75, depending on the applicant's country.
Looking beyond the cost, there is the issue of being stranded on Mars. We like to think of our pioneers and adventurers as people who venture into the unknown and return triumphantly. In this case, the adventurers would not return. But, unlike the pioneers of old, these travelers will be in continuous visual and audio contact with mother Earth.
This brings up the question of whether physical return to Earth is as meaningful in this modern age of communications. We easily see and exchange thoughts with astronauts on the space station on a daily basis. Families of astronauts miss being with them, but if families travel together the hardship may be reduced a great deal.
Of course, related issues are numerous and we cannot address all of them here. Suffice it to say that the Pilgrims seemed to have similar issues and initial adjustments were surely difficult. But, they overcame these to eventually create this country.
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
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