A human settlement on the Red Planet is only about a decade away, according to the folks at the privately funded space project Mars One.
"Mars One will take humanity to Mars in 2023, to establish the foundation of a permanent settlement from which we will prosper, learn, and grow," they say. "Mars One has developed a precise, realistic plan based entirely upon existing technologies. It is both economically and logistically feasible, in motion through the aggregation of existing suppliers and experts in space exploration."
Their model is fairly simple, in a way. The first crew will take a 7-month journey to Mars, and a new team will join the settlement every two years. Mars One says that there could be over twenty people living there by 2033. The first team of astronauts will be limited to four.
Of course, something like this must be privately funded - and it would cost a pretty penny. Mars One estimates that putting the first team on the planet and establishing the colony would figure to run them about $6 billion.
In order to help with funding, Mars One has an interesting idea. Basically, they want to turn the whole thing into a reality TV show.
"Following the landing, huge audiences will tune in regularly to see how our people on Mars are doing, how the relationships are developing between the astronauts, how they are dealing with the conditions and daily challenges, and how the scientific and habitat development work is progressing," they say.
"From a business perspective, the media spectacle approach is interesting, because it makes it possible to generate revenue, and solicit interest from sponsors, before actually going to Mars."
But no fake drama here, they say. The experience of living on Mars would be thrilling enough. They wouldn't need to resort to manipulations like The Real World or The Bachelorette. Seriously, watching people live on Mars would probably be good enough.
Mars One has a giant FAQ section that covers the financials, mission specs, technology, health concerns and ethics, and well as information on participation. It's definitely an idea that sounds far out to most people, but man is it exciting to think about. With the Curiosity rover just touching down on the Martian surface last week, space exploration is on everyone's mind.
And that's a good thing.