Would you sign up for a trip to the Red Planet? That may be a very real option sometime soon: the Mars One Project wants to ship out a crew of four by 2023. How? By securing funds after "creating the biggest media event ever" surrounding the mission, and by sending waves of settlers to go live on Mars.
Even with so many details up in the air, Mars One has a pretty specific roadmap. Next year will see the selection of up to 40 astronauts from "everyone and anyone who feels they are up to the challenge." Then, said astronauts will live out in the desert together in a mock habitat as they prepare for the real thing. Think Mars500, but with less isolation.
In 2016, the first craft will be sent to Mars: a supply vehicle that will make the interplanetary journey in under 10 months and carry over 5,500 pounds of food (hopefully the thing has a refrigerator inside). In 2018, a robotic rover will follow, which will scout for the best possible area to establish a colony. This rover will also pipe a live video feed back to Earth — a concept Mars One leans heavily on, but more on that in a moment.
2021 is when things get real. A series of pod-like structures will be sent to the Red Planet: "two living units, two life support units, a second supplies unit and another rover in total." The rover will join the first scout, and together the pair will construct the preliminary habitat for a manned mission in 2023. 2022 will see "all water, oxygen and atmosphere production" squared away, and if everything checks out the first four human visitors to Mars will get the green.
For what's little more than a collection of concept renderings right now, it's an ambitious plan and one that starts soon. Mars One mastermind Bas Lansdorp, a Dutch businessman who used to work in alternative energy, hasn't quite outlined what this "biggest media event ever" will look like, but io9's Robert Gonzalez reports that "the project has already received backing from Paul Römer, a co-founder and executive producer of the show Big Brother." Hopefully that doesn't mean shallow drama or pillow talk captured in nightvision on the way to Mars.
It's an ambitious plan and one that's tickled our preliminary curiosity, but everything about the Mars One Project is exactly that: preliminary.