In the aftermath of Neil Armstrong’s death in August 2012, many agreed that his first steps on the moon back in 1969 ranked amongst humanity’s greatest ever achievements. The Apollo 11 mission, on which he was accompanied by Buzz Aldrin, marked the culmination of the so-called ‘Space Race’ during the Cold War and, in Armstrong’s words, respresented a ‘giant leap for mankind’ in terms of scientific achievement.
Although ten other people have walked on the surface of the moon since the Apollo 11 mission, how many people reading this article could name them? For most of us, it is Armstrong and Aldrin’s names that will live on forever, due to their status as the first human beings to accomplish such a feat.
Following on from the successful lunar missions, the next logical step in space exploration has always been a manned mission to Mars. So what price would people pay to trump Armstrong and Aldrin and become the first people to step foot on another planet? For over 100,000 people, the answer is that they would willingly give up their place on this planet, forever.
The ‘Mars One’ Project
‘Mars One’ is a private spaceflight project, which aims to establish a permanent human colony on Mars by 2023. The project, which has received backing from Nobel Prize winner, Gerard ‘t Hooft, is accepting civilian applicants for their mission, with the aim of narrowing down the applicants to a team of four, whom it hopes will be the first people to ever walk on the planet.
The catch? The ticket to Mars is one-way and those selected for the mission will never be able to return to Earth.
Yet, this rather heavy price is one that many are willing to pay in order to break new ground and make history. To date, more than 100,000 people have applied for the mission, including over 30,000 applicants from the United States.
Later in the year, Mars One will select a group of 40 applicants, from various countries around the world. From that group of 40, two men and two women will eventually be selected to take off from Earth in 2022 and land on Mars in 2023. Two years later, four more people will complete the mission, with a view to landing 20 people on the planet by 2033.
Those 20 people will live out the remainder of their lives on Mars, establishing a full, permanent human colony on the planet.
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