In the early 1960s, the United States made an ambitious goal that many, including its Cold War rival Soviet Russia, thought impossible: landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
Just nine years later, it had achieved its goal, with several other missions following in the wake of the successful Apollo 11 landing. It was an iconic moment of the 20th century and undoubtedly one of the scientific world’s greatest achievements.
Today, the goal is different, albeit every bit as ambitious: to establish a permanent colony, inhabited by humans, on Mars by the year 2025. The organization behind the goal, known as Mars One, is led by Bas Lansdorp, a Dutch entrepreneur and mechanical engineer who announced the mission in May of 2012.
What is Mars One?
Mars One is an ambitious plan to establish a human colony on Mars by 2025. The mission is currently involved in the selection phase, with a pool of 1058 people in line for selection as astronauts on the one-way mission.
The current first-round pool of astronauts includes 586 men and 472 women, with potential astronauts coming from over 100 different countries. The first mission to Mars will take place in January 2018, with an unmanned supply vehicle traveling to the planet with 2,500 kilograms of parts and supplies will depart Earth.
Two years later, the settlement rover will explore the planet in search of a suitable location for humans to set up the Mars One colony. In 2022, the mission’s schedule includes the construction of six living, life support, and supply units for use in the human-populated Mars colony.
In another two years, by 2024, the first Mars One mission is planned to depart from the Earth for Mars, with four applicants reaching the Red Planet at some point in the next year. If successful, there will be additional four-person missions to Mars every two years following the launch of the first mission.
Is Mars One possible?
Mars One’s feasibility has been both supported and criticized by a range of scientists and businesspeople. Some have criticized the mission’s perceived cost, with famous American space authority NASA estimating that a mission to Mars would cost over $100 billion, even in the most austere conditions.
Despite this, some believe that the mission is technologically possible. The Mars One team itself has identified key suppliers for technology for its mission, with a variety of proven suppliers such as SpaceX lined up as potential partners for the mission.
It’s one of the 21st century’s most ambitious goals, and certainly one that seems like it could never be successful. However, given the world’s history of making ambitious and seemingly impossible goals related to space travel and discovery, the success of Mars One may not be as impossible as many believe.
For Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp and his team of investors, scientists, and his growing list of volunteer space travelers, even the smallest possibility of success is enough to lend immense hope to the Mars One mission.