Wellington: A brand new private space venture from the Netherlands called Mars One aims to send four astronauts on a one-way journey to Mars in just 11 years time.
Founded by Dutch entrepreneur and researcher Bas Landsdorp, who previously headed up an alternative energy company, the new venture doesn’t have a lot of the polish of other private space companies, many of which were started by billionaires such as Musk, Paul Allen or Jeff Bezos.
Mars One has a definite and achievable to-do list.
The first step includes sending a communications satellite to Mars in 2016, while step two follows up with a Red Planet rover in 2018, which will trawl the dusty landscape, scoping out some of the best spots to found a colony.
The third step, in 2020, included sending infrastructure for the colonists to live in, including solar panels and machines that will convert the Martian elements into water and oxygen.
Only then, on the surprisingly specific date of September 14, 2022, will Mars One launch its first four astronauts.
Their journey to the new colony will take ten months, though they will have been preparing for a decade. Most of that prep time will be spent figuring out how not to kill someone when you have to live in extremely close quarters for the better part of a year and none of you can take a shower.
Landsdorp plans to send another couple of adventurous astronauts to join the colony every two years, but the idea is that no one gets a return journey.
This is a permanent base, a Plymouth Rock in an entirely new world that will begin the long, slow and painstaking process of terraforming it.
Landsdorp says that the mission will be funded by “media spectacle”.