Red Planet dreams: what it takes to sign up for a one-way mission….

Medium takes a long look at the Mars One company, which has assembled 200,000 volunteers for a Mars mission that doesn’t yet exist:

Despite not being a space-faring agency, it claims that by 2025 it will send four colonists to the planet. Ultimately, it says, there will be at least six groups of four, a mix of men and women, who will train on Earth for 10 years until they are ready to be shot into space strapped to a rocket, never to return.

It estimates the mission will cost only about $6 billion, tens if not hundreds of billions less than any manned Mars mission so far proposed by NASA. Mars One openly admits that it is “not an aerospace company and will not manufacture mission hardware. All equipment will be developed by third-party suppliers and integrated in established facilities.” That’s how it will keep costs down, by outsourcing everything to private enterprise.

It is, essentially, a marketing campaign with two goals: first, to raise enough interest among the global community in a manned Mars mission so that crowd-funding and advertising revenues will be generated to the tune of billions of dollars; and, second, to use this money?—?largely to be raised through a reality television series documenting the training process and journey to Mars from Earth?—?to pay for the mission itself.

When Mars One announced that it had received 200,000 applications from around the world, Josh’s heart sank. That list was sure to include a ton of fighter pilots, ex-space agency engineers, private space company employees, scientists, geologists, people with Ph.D.s and genius IQs, even Nobel laureates?—?literally thousands of candidates far more qualified than Josh was. So when he found himself on the shortlist of people who were ready to live out their days on the lonely surface of Mars, he was shocked, to put it mildly.

Before he’d applied for Mars One, Josh had met a girl at the Redhead Days festival in the Netherlands. Eli did not have red hair, but was brunette; Josh was drawn to her easygoing demeanor, her effortless good moods, and they fell very much in love. But a shot at Mars would be a serious, life-changing turn of events, and Josh knew that he would have to fully commit if he was ever going to make it to the final selection. He didn’t even wait for the application deadline to break it off.

“I couldn’t maintain a long-term relationship knowing how much I needed to commit to this,” he says. “I’d be a pretty shit boyfriend if I was stopping her from meeting other people. I had to make a decision that I had to give up relationships generally in order to be able to do this. I had to choose Mars over her.”

“I don’t think it would be fair if I told him no,” Eli says now.

Kraft says that some of the candidates discovered in the course of their medical checks that they were seriously ill, some with cancer, some in need of operations. “So maybe I saved some lives there.” By May, he’d gotten the list down to 700 or so.

I am struck by Kraft’s absolute faith that this will all come off without a hitch, as though it can be made real just by believing in it.

“I want them as soon as possible to be absolutely independent from Earth. This is their goal, and they will do their own society. So you have to think it’s exciting by itself to start everything from scratch: They will have their own constitution, their own laws. They have their own holidays. They definitely have different hours, but they have to really decide by themselves, and that’s why they have to be such mature people to go there. You have to have the right start from the beginning.”

[Commander Chris] Hadfield says that Mars One fails at even the most basic starting point of any manned space mission: If there are no specifications for the craft that will carry the crew, if you don’t know the very dimensions of the capsule they will be traveling in, you can’t begin to select the people who will be living and working inside of it.

“I really counsel every single one of the people who is interested in Mars One, whenever they ask me about it, to start asking the hard questions now. I want to see the technical specifications of the vehicle that is orbiting Earth. I want to know: How does a space suit on Mars work? Show me how it is pressurized, and how it is cooled. What’s the glove design? None of that stuff can be bought off the rack. It does not exist. You can’t just go to SpaceMart and buy those things.”

The captioned illustrations in this are really more than half the story, so go check it out.

[via Ms. Izquierdo]