By J.W. Schnarr
The Mars 100 have been selected.
I’ve been following with great interest over the past couple years as a company called “Mars One” has gone about the business of selecting a small number of citizen astronauts they are planning to send to Mars in 2025.
So, just who are these elite 100, from which the next round of cuts will be made? According to the Mars One website (www.mars-one.com), they include: “…candidates come from all around the world, namely 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania.” The group is made up of 50 men and 50 women. These 100 applicants were culled from an original world-wide callout which ultimately resulted in more than 200,000 applications being made.
This list of 100 candidates includes six Canadians, including:
Daniel Benjamin Criger, a 28-year-old physics PhD candidate from Waterloo, Ont.;
Karen Louise Cumming, a 53-year-old television journalist from Burlington, Ont.;
Reginald George Foulds, a 60-year-old former helicopter pilot from Toronto;
Joanna Marjorie Hindle, a 42-year-old high school teacher from Whistler, B.C.;
Andrea Lavinia Radulescu, a 33-year-old IT analyst from Toronto, Ont.; and
Susan Higashio Weinreich, a 42-year-old Scout leader from Windsor, Ont.
Up until now, the applicants have been selected or cut based on interviews and given a chance to show their general aptitude, team spirit, and a realization of what the trip to Mars is going to entail. Particularly, that there’s no foreseeable way for them to come back once they head out there.
That’s right. It’s a one-way trip.
The goal of Mars One is to establish a permanent human colony on the red planet. The not-for-profit company believes it is possible for humans to inhabit the planet with the technology we already have in place, and will try to prove it by sending a small number of astronauts and enough equipment to set up a permanent settlement. Later, they plan on sending more people and more equipment in order to grow the settlement accordingly, and as new technologies become available on earth, they will be upgraded on Mars.
This whole thing is largely being funded through merchandising and advertising opportunities, and there are plans for live video feeds which would show these Martians living their day-to-day lives, like a super-awesome version of that reality show, “Big Brother”.
So what’s next for the brave 100 of Mars One?
Well, there is a long road of selections still ahead of them. The number of applications needs to be whittled down to four for the initial trip slated for 2025.
Those four need eight years of training, including learning to work with the technology being sent along with them, learning to function as a small, four-man team for a year while they prep and expand the living quarters to house four more astronauts the next year – and so on – conceivably, this is how a large permanent structure will be built, including native building materials. This could mean underground tunnels and domes with the goal of eventually building rooms large enough to allow the Martians to plant trees.
They will also receive the requisite amount of psychological preparation. It will take about seven months to get to Mars, so after being in a space ship that long they’ll have to adjust to life where they depend only on themselves and each other.
There will be no rescue ships coming in the event of a catastrophic failure. The only thing a rescue ship might accomplish is to pick up the bodies of people who have been dead for months, and maybe as long as a year.
Prior to the 2025 launch event, there will be a number of unmanned trips made to Mars in order to prepare the sight for the eventual landing as well as to collect data and test some of the planned technology.
In 2018, they are planning on sending a robot to Mars to test water extraction, soil acquisition, a thin film solar power demonstration, test the camera system, an educational project, and a winning university experiment. There will also be a slot open for proposals from the highest bidding company to send their experiment along.
In 2020, an unmanned rover will be sent to Mars to pick a landing site. At the same time, a communications satellite will be launched. In 2022, a cargo launch is planned, containing two life support units and two supply units. It is hoped the materials will be ready and waiting for the four astronauts when they launch in 2024.
Let’s hope when they finally do blast off to Mars, there’s a Canadian presence on board. Of course, we’d have to find some way to live stream the Stanley Cup playoffs to them if they do send a Canadian.
Let’s see…the Edmonton Oilers should be just about done their rebuild by then!