Of all the plans to put human boots on Martian soil in the not-too-distant future, Mars One’s scheme is perhaps the most ambitious…or the most foolhardy. There’s the reality show element, where the training of the volunteer astronauts and their mission will be broadcast for all to see. There’s the amateur aspect — during the application period this past summer, over 200,000 people threw their hats in the ring, from around the world and from all walks of life. But then there’s the craziest element of all — this is a one-way voyage. Mars One’s plan isn’t just to have humans visit the red planet, but to colonize. They’re going there to make Mars their home.
The infographic above breaks down the plans and strategies behind Mars One, along with the various target dates over the next decade or so. It’s a fascinating look into what could become one of mankind’s most momentous endeavors…or a tragic disaster that will remind us all just how many challenges face humanity if we are to spread beyond the cradle of Earth.
Mars One is a nonprofit organization founded by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp. First launched in 2011, Mars One has hammered out a bold plan to get humans to Mars, with cargo missions heading out initially, the first manned mission set to launch in 2022, and the arrival of the first colonists in 2023. The application process ended this past August, and once the candidates are whittled down, audience members will be able to vote for whom they think should get a ticket to Mars.
This infographic does clarify one thing that I had been wondering about: what’s the long-term plan? Obviously you couldn’t plant a colony with just four people. After the first colonists arrive — assuming they arrive, and all goes as planned — new groups of four will venture to the budding colony every two years.
And I truly hope it does go as planned. There are a thousand ways it could go wrong. Space, as one old country doctor once remaked, is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence, but it’s a challenge worth tackling, and one we’ll ultimately have to tackle if we aren’t just going to give up and let ourselves burn out here on Earth. If Mars One’s plan works, I’ll (hopefully) live to see mankind truly take one of its first tentative steps into the cosmos. And if it goes wrong, that disaster could delay similar missions or make it even harder for politicians to justify funding this sort of thing.
So I’m skeptical…but I’m rooting for Mars One. Here’s hoping they don’t let me down.