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Meet the 100 People Who are Hoping to Die on Mars

Meet the 100 People Who are Hoping to Die on Mars

Here’s the pitch: You can be one of the first humans on Mars, but you aren’t coming back. What would you say?

For the applicants to the Dutch non-profit Mars One, the answer is an emphatic “yes,” and the company is hoping to start handing out these one-way tickets to the Red Planet as early as 2024. Now, from a pool of 200,000 hopefuls who applied last year, the field has winnowed to 100. And you can meet them all.

Sabrina, age 36, is a world-traveler who is currently teaching and writing in Japan. Alison, 35, is a secondary school lab technician in London. Mido, 32, is a financial planner from Egypt.

Of these 100 applicants, 24 will eventually be chosen for six 4-person teams. The next step, at least according to this fantastic graphic from the Washington Post, is to start testing the applicant’s mathematics, survival skills, and ability to deal with each other. Rigorous training will continue until rovers and living units are robotically deposited on Mars sometime between 2020 and 2024.

There is a curious thread running through these applicants. There has to be. It takes a certain kind of outlook of life to want to take on a one-way mission, especially one that a recent MIT study concluded would be fatal shortly after two months on the Martian surface. The impression I get is that it is a combination of desperation and an adventurer’s spirit, depression and hopes for a legacy.

This odd feeling is best captured by “If I Die on Mars,” a short documentary interviewing three Mars One hopefuls:

Personally, I’m conflicted over Mars One as an idea. I don’t think that humanity’s next push across the solar system should be led by just anyone with a dream and or nothing to lose. There’s a good reason we look for “the right stuff.” Mars One has made the next giant leap look like a reality show, no matter if the applicants will be trained as rigorously as astronauts by the time the first rocket launches. It all seems rather reckless.

But maybe that recklessness, that willingness to plunge into the abyss no matter your fate, is part of the pioneer that I am missing.

IMAGE: Mars One

Author’s Note: The author of this post was asked to provide commentary for the video above, though without monetary compensation.

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  1. Jarrod says:

    I really think the error here is pushing this thing forward without a way back to earth. When was it decided that this absolutemy had to be a one way trip. Half a decade ago we brought men back from the moon, we should be able to do it from mars too.

    • RG says:

      But we don’t have a colony on the moon.

      Just sayin’. I’d certainly never do it, but think of how socially important it could be in its current form: We live in a world where government space programs are nearly a thing of the past. Corporations are the ones forging ahead, and some (Comcast comes to mind) are true threats, but as a private project, this could once again awaken us to the responsibility for true human innovation, returning our increasingly corporatist world to a more ideal state. On the other hand, socially, you have reality TV, one of the most absurd, derided things, finally proving its use as it documents the creation of the first offworld colony of the human race.

      Coming back? That’s the old ideal. It was the idea of that astronaut going home to his dinner table that kept us from doing more, because we had to see ourselves in our heroes, and it held our heroes back. We had to filter it through the 20th century notion of celebrity.

      That spoiled us. Lives are invaluable, of course, but as we send thousands of young men to their deaths just to bring about the deaths of others in meaningless wars, isn’t it time for a true sacrifice?

  2. Spencer Key says:

    I am a Mars One applicant. I also have a degree in Physics from UC Santa Cruz. I believe in the Mars One mission. I have spoken personally with Bas Lansdorp (CEO of Mars One) and he plans to see this through to the end. You say “I don’t think that humanity’s next push across the solar system should be led by just anyone with a dream and or nothing to lose.” Who do you think should lead? I think a crew that’s been fully trained AND has passionate dreams of space exploration are the most qualified leaders for this mission. They also don’t have “nothing to lose.” They may never be able to physically hug their loved ones or smell fresh Earth air again. You say “it all seems rather reckless.” I think some of it does, but not all of it. What do you think?

    • luckymustard says:

      Agreed. Is what some of the Europeans (other ancient nations) did by crossing the Atlantic and other oceans seem “rather reckless”? I sure would think so.

    • Blake says:

      Recklessness and having nothing to loser is what has globalized our planet. this is just like the first people to colonize north america, except braver as it will surely end in death. I salute any man or woman that is brave enough to take part in this and thank them for what might be the most important contribution to humanity as whole in our history

  3. Soooooo…are they going to make this a reality tv show or not?

  4. michael says:

    Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame. Whatever the cost.

  5. MJ says:

    I wanna die on Mars *stubbornly stomps foot with a pout-y face*

  6. robert says:

    Doctor who waters of mars nope