The Mars One project has announced that its shortlist of 100 would-be astronauts will undergo a series of tests in order to whittle down the remaining number of candidates to a final group of 24 men and women who, if all goes according to plan, will start their one-way journey to Mars in 2026.
“The challenges are designed to determine the candidate’s key competencies. Additionally, individual debriefing sessions after each group challenge will provide us with insights into morale, motivation, norm settings, coping strategies and decision making,” says Norbert Kraft, chief medical officer for Mars One project, which has been dogged by controversy since first announced in May 2012. “We want the groups to be as diverse as possible, and to utilize the uniqueness and special contribution from, for example, different backgrounds in order to solve complex problems.”
Initially drawing in over 200,000 applicants, the Mars One project has progressed through a series of stages to produce the current roster of 100 candidates from around the world, including six from Canada.
Mars One is the dream of Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdrop and European Space Agency scientist Arno Wielders, who state that the goal of starting a permanent settlement on Mars comes at a projected cost of $6.1 billion (USD) to send the first four individuals to the red planet.
The privately-funded mission has been subject to criticism ever since promoters initially announced plans to generate revenue for the project via a reality TV show based on the mission, its candidate astronauts and their trip to Mars. But talks with Endemol, creators of the Big Brother reality TV series, have since broken down and, so far, the project has raised an estimated $780,000, mainly through crowdfunding efforts.
The SpaceX aerospace company has recently announced it will be charting a mission to Mars, scheduled to put humans on the planet by 2025. Speaking at the Code media and technology conference in California, Founder Elon Musk said that he hopes to launch the first of its Falcon Heavy rockets designed to carry humans into space by the end of this year. Musk spoke of his plans to create a “self-sustaining, growing city” on Mars, complete with “big entrepreneurial opportunities, ranging from the first iron ore refinery to the first pizza joint.”
“What SpaceX is trying to do is establish the environment for entrepreneurs on Mars to flourish,” says Musk.
Currently under contract with NASA to fly cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station, Space X says its Falcon Heavy “will be the world’s most powerful rocket.”
Meanwhile over at NASA, plans for its own mission to send humans to Mars are underway, with current timelines of 2025 to send humans to an asteroid in space and sometime in the 2030’s to arrive on Mars. In order to collect information on systems and capabilities needed for the Mars mission, NASA first aims to capture and redirect an asteroid so that it orbits the moon and then send astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft to the asteroid for testing.
“Engineers and scientists around the country are working hard to develop the technologies astronauts will use to one day live and work on Mars, and safely return home from the next giant leap for humanity,” says NASA.