NASA's road map for getting to Mars may be in flux, and SpaceX pioneer Elon Musk has only a vague intention to point his rockets at the Red Planet. But that doesn't mean nobody is making definitive plans to set up shop on the fourth rock from the Sun.
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Stepping into the vacuum Friday: a brand new private space venture from the Netherlands called Mars One, which 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.
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Watch that video above and you'll get a distinct sense of the earnest amateur. For all its letters of intent from component suppliers and support from Nobel prize-winners, there doesn't seem to be a lot of money behind this venture -- yet.
But here's what Mars One does have going for it: a definite and achievable to-do list.
Step one: send a communications satellite to Mars in 2016. Step two: follow 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. Step three, in 2020: send 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, we hope, 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.
And how will this all be funded? Landsdorp has two words for you: "media spectacle." We're not sure what that means, exactly -- selling broadcast rights to the landing? Sponsorships from large corporations eager to advertise on the mission? Will Coke be the first soda on Mars?
Whatever it is, we can't wait to find out. If Mars One is selling subscriptions to this spectacle, sign us up.
Would you pay to watch humans travel to Mars? Let us know in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.