The Future of Space Travel for Civilians

There have long been whispers of the possibility of space travel for regular civilians who have never studied astronomy or undergone rigorous space training. The Mars One mission aims to land humans on Mars and establish a permanent colony there by the year 2032. The project is headed by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp and was announced in May 2012, with the initial date for a manned flight to Mars forecast for 2024. The applications for those willing to leave Earth behind and start a new life elsewhere in the solar system were open to anyone over the age of 18; by mid-2013, just one year after the release of the news, the project had already received over 165,000 applications, with the majority of those selected for the second round of the process comprising of highly educated individuals under the age of 40.

The Mars One project has received its fair share of criticism, mainly relating to questions of health, technology and finance. Lansdorp estimated the cost of sending the initial four astronauts to Mars in 2024 and sustaining them there for the remainder of their lives at 6 billion US dollars, which many consider to be far too low. The leaders of the project had proposed a reality TV show surrounding the selection of the astronauts and their first years living on the new planet, though this idea has now been modified to a documentary-style feature film, comprising of ‘highlights’ from the training process and eventual launch. The project also released a crowdfunding page on Indiegogo in late 2013, though they did not reach their goal of raising $400,000 USD, even after extending their end-date from January 25th, 2014 to February 9th, 2014.

While many consider the project to be an exciting development for the future of mankind, the project’s next steps are uncertain and, with competition from the likes NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX which are also striving to avoid human extinction, we are unable to foresee whether Mars One will be a true success.

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