The race to Mars is heating up, and a record 200,000 people have signed up to help colonize the red planet, but some of them are going to die.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is gearing up for a manned Mars mission in 2024 with the hope of establishing a colony on the red planet, but he told the Washington Post that not everyone will survive the crossing.
“It’s dangerous and probably people will die, and they’ll know that. And then they’ll pave the way, and ultimately it will be very safe to go to Mars, and it will very comfortable. But that will be many years in the future.”
Meanwhile, another competitor in the race to the red planet, Mars One, signed up 200,000 people who want to help establish an off-world colony in 2026. The Netherlands non-profit plans to start sending Mars colonists on one-way trips to the red planet every 26 months when it’s closest to Earth.
The list of candidates willing to undertake the harrowing crossing between Earth and Mars will be narrowed down to 40 people after testing, but only 26 brave men and women will be chosen, but that’s no guarantee they’ll survive the experience, reports Nature World News.
“As they will not be returning to Earth, those selected must be capable of living in small groups, finding water, producing oxygen and growing their own food.”
To survive the harsh Martian climate, colonists will need to establish pods capable of supporting life, growing fresh food, providing water, and filtering oxygen.
Unlike NASA astronauts, these brave pioneers are signing up for a one-way trip to the red planet and to make everything more interesting the company is funding their Mars enterprise with a reality show.
Mars One and SpaceX are the two private space transportation companies best prepared to tackle the difficult prospect of sending humans to Mars.
NASA also has the stated goal of sending astronauts to the red planet, but not until the 2030s and with technology that has yet to be developed in spacecraft that haven’t been designed.
The space agency is developing the Orion crew capsule, which is basically a jumped-up version of the one used in the Apollo missions. However, its rocket booster, the Space Launch System, won’t be ready until at least 2018 if everything goes according to plan.
Mars One has similar problems. The non-profit foundation has done a great job of attracting astronaut applicants but is depending on third-party contractors to develop the technology needed for an Earth-to-Mars transit.
The company has announced plans to launch unmanned cargo shuttles every two years starting in 2020; the robotic ships will carry everything the future Mars colonists will need. The problem is that no space transportation company will admit to working with Mars One, and the company needs third-party contractors to develop the spaceships necessary to carry its colonists safely to the red planet.
SpaceX is also planning to launch a series of unmanned cargo ships to Mars every two years, but unlike Mars One, they’re building their own ride. The company’s Falcon Heavy rocket, with 27 first-stage engines, will be test launched in November and is designed to carry the Dragon capsule, which is capable of gently lowering itself to the Martian surface.
SpaceX is planning to send people to Mars in 2024, with their arrival expected in 2025. Those colonists will also be on a one-way journey as Elon Musk has no plans to bring them home.
The real-life Tony Stark billionaire has announced plans to build a Mars transportation system capable of carrying a massive payload to the red planet for the cost of $62 million, so maybe Mars One will be able to hitch a ride.
Would you be willing to colonize Mars if it meant a one-way trip away from Earth?
[Photo by NASA/JPL via Getty Images]