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Dutch Mars colonisation mission plans reality TV show05 January 2014, by Alexandra Gowling
Mars One, the Dutch not-for-profit organisation that plans to send colonists to Mars, is planning to use a reality show to help select candidates for the mission.
In April 2013, Mars One announced that they were accepting applications for the 40 positions they plan to have in the first mission, who will be set up the colony and live out their lives on the red planet.
Mars colony applicants
From the more than 200.000 people who applied, 1.058 have made it through to the second round. Of the thousands that missed out, many were dropped because they did not take the mission seriously, evidenced, for example, by filming themselves naked for their video application.
The shortlisted candidates come from 107 different countries, with the greatest amount (297 people, nearly half of them women) coming from the United States, while the oldest applicant is 81.
A 20-year-old cultural anthropology student from Schiedam who is one of the successful candidates said he was very excited to participate in the project.
"I understand the consequences," he said. "We all have a dream to create that sort of community there. You are starting something totally new and therefore you also need to set out clear steps. Make a choice."
Televised selection process
Mars One says that they next selection phases in 2014 and 2015 will include "rigorous simulations, many in team settings, with focus on testing the physical and emotional capabilities" of the candidates.
The details of the process have not yet been settled, however, as Mars One is negotiating with media companies for the rights to televise it. CEO Bas Lansdorp has said they are in "advanced negotiations with a major studio."
"We fully anticipate our remaining candidates to become celebrities in their towns, cities and, in many cases, countries," he continued. "It’s about to get very interesting."
Likelihood of success
On December 10, 2013, Mars One launched a crowd-funding campaign for their first mission, an unmanned trip to Mars scheduled for 2018. They also announced agreements with Lockheed Martin Space Systems and a leading small satellite company Surrey Satellite Technology to develop mission plans.
For all of this, however, they will need an estimated 4,8 billion euros, which will most likely require more than just crowd funding to finance.
Despite the technology partnerships, there are some who are doubtful about the technical feasibility of the project, including Dutch astronaut André Kuipers.
"I am very skeptical about plans like those of Mars One," he said. "These are techniques that we have yet to fully develop, and the costs are enormous."
If a television show does happen, however, then critics may be silenced. Lansdorp has said, "If humans land on Mars, everyone will want to watch. It will be bigger than the Olympic Games."
That kind of audience would make Mars One a lot of money, possibly enough to start colonising a planet.