Bored with talk about building a lunar colony? A Dutch startup that goes by the name Mars One says it will establish a colony on Mars by 2023, according to the Mars One website.
In 2022, a crew of four will embark on a seven-month flight to the Red Planet--and stay there for the rest of their lives, according to the website. A new team will make the trip every two years, enabling the colony to grow.
“This is an extraordinary project by people with vision, imagination," Nobel Prize-winning physicist Dr. Gerard 't Hooft, a "mission ambassador" for the privately funded venture, said in a video posted on the website.
Dr. Hooft, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1999, also told The Huffington Post in an email, "I think that this could be a way to get the first human colony started on Mars."
Of course, a mission as ambitious as this takes some serious planning. Next year Mars One says it will launch the astronaut selection process to identify suitable colonists. The astronauts will undergo about a decade of training. In 2018, a rover will fly to Mars to determine the best location for the settlement. In addition to necessities like water and oxygen, the settlement will include "atmosphere production" to ensure the colonists' survival.
Is a plan this ambitious really possible?
"It is technically feasible. The question is not a technical or material question. It is a question of morale,” Dr. Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society and author of "The Case For Mars," told The Huffington Post.
But is Mars One really the group to pull off something that Mars buffs have been pushing for years? Richard Garriott, a private astronaut and a NASA consultant, sounded a cautious note in an email to The Huffington Post. "It is definitely NOT more serious than many hopeful Google Lunar X-Prize teams," he wrote of the Mars One proposal. "Many have interesting viable starting plans. Few raise the money to be able to pull it off."
But Garriott is apparently on board with the basic outline of the Mars One plan. "I think the people who go to Mars first ought to be settlers," he told the BBC in February. "To get people back off Mars is harder than getting people off of Earth, because it’s another world. Maybe we’ll start bringing people the other way in a hundred years.”
Garriott said he would make a one-way trip to Mars if given the opportunity. So would Dr. Zubrin.
"This is something that has amazing historic value--the transformation of humanity from a single planet species to a multiplanet species," Dr. Zubrin said. "You only live once,” he said. “To have the chance to do something like this is profound."
Would you move permanently to Mars if given the opportunity? Tell us in the comments.