It was bound to happen sooner or later. Everything else has been the basis for a reality show, so why not the colonization of Mars? An independent company, Mars One, aims to send four permanent residents to the Red Planet by April 2023, and the mission will be partially funded by a TV program.
The plan from Mars One is to add four new settlers to the crew every two years. By 2033 they envision 20 people living on the surface of Mars. The Dutch company has been talking with other private space-going entities, like Space X—who recently sent the first non-government rocket to the Space Station—about setting up supply chains. This will be a one-way mission. Once the settlers set down on Mars, that’s it, they’re there for good or for worse.
Mars One is backed by what seems like an unlikely pair—Gerard ‘t Hooft, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, and Paul Romer, who co-created the hit reality program Big Brother. To turn this mission into a large-scale media circus, the search for astronauts, which they aim to begin next year, will be turned into the equivalent of a reality show.
The company has this to say:
This will also be our way to finance the mission: the mission to Mars will be the biggest media event ever!…The entire world will be able to watch and help with decisions as the teams of settlers are selected, follow their extensive training and preparation for the mission and of course observe their settling on Mars once arrived. The emigrated astronauts will share their experiences with us as they build their new home, conduct experiments and explore Mars.
I’m curious exactly how much input the brain trust behind this endeavor is thinking of giving the public. Are they envisioning an American Idol or Dancing With the Stars type of thing, where popular opinion plays a significant role? Because I don’t know how much I trust a viewing audience to select the most appropriate team of space travelers. I’m sure there will be safeguards, but I can’t help but imagine an episode of The Real World or Jersey Shore. Drunk ass-clowns in space. Also, I know reality TV is lucrative, but financing an endless mission to space?
Those are just my snarky quibbles, but in reality this is a crazy cool idea. Haven’t we all been waiting for hover cars, lightsabers, and commercial space travel since childhood? Not to mention, that’s one hell of a commitment. Most reality shows take you away from your life and your loved ones for a few weeks, a few months at the longest, but entering a contest where the prize is literally leaving this entire world behind. I have to admit, I would watch that.