Meet Three People Who Intend to Die on Mars

How badly do you want to go to Mars? So badly that you’re willing to make it a one-way trip. And if you’re lucky, LUCKY, you might get a chance to live out a full life on the surface of the Red Planet – a place that’s totally inhospitable to human life. The risks are enormous, the trip will be difficult, and the unknown challenges of trying to survive on Mars have yet to be discovered.

It baffles the imagination that anyone would be willing to put themselves in that kind of risk, turning their back on their friends and family to die (probably quickly) on an alien world. And yet, more than 200,000 people have applied to the Mars One Project, and 663 candidates have been put on the shortlist. Eventually just 4 people will be packed into a spacecraft and blasted off to the Red Planet in 2018. Once they get there, they’ll need to survive with what they brought with them, and what they can scrounge from the surface of the planet. And then they’ll be joined every 2 years later by another crew of potential colonists.

In this short video, the Guardian profiles three would-be Mars colonists to find out what motivates them to participate in this journey.

On its surface, the idea, of course is crazy. And I’ve been skeptical from the beginning that Mars One is ever going to get off the ground, let alone get humans to the surface of Mars, alive. And even if they do arrive alive, calculations from MIT seem to indicate how they’ll die will be a race between a lack of air, water, food or exposure to radiation.

Dina from Iraq/USA
Dina from Iraq/USA

But I’ve also said on many occasions that human space exploration needs focus on getting humans into space, taking greater and greater steps into the Solar System, pushing the boundaries of what we know how to do. We need to turn the impossible into the possible, and the dangerous into the routine. And it’s great to see organizations like Mars One publicly pushing this agenda forward. If nothing else, this helps encourage the space agencies to realize that their citizens want to see them take on big challenges, and that they’re willing to endure the risks.

Ryan from the United Kingdom
Ryan from the United Kingdom

Elon Musk has stated that the goal for SpaceX is to support the colonization of Mars. This is why he won’t take the company public until the Mars Transportation System is up and running, so it can be unhindered by shareholders who don’t support the longterm goal of colonizing Mars. Considering Musk’s track record so far with SpaceX, Tesla and Solar City, it’s hard to think he’ll fail at anything he really puts his mind to.

Perhaps there will eventually be an alliance between SpaceX and Mars One, to support one another as they send humans on a one way trip to Mars. And maybe, these future astronauts will get to live a long life, until they die on Mars.

27 Replies to “Meet Three People Who Intend to Die on Mars”

  1. Elon Musk certainly seems to have the ability to land himself with some kind of future Dragon spaceship on Mars, and die there. In a quarter of a century. Retiring there as he calls it. He might very well do it. If you haven’t created a successful rocket company yourself, your best chance is to get there as his butler or girlfriend or engineer. Don’t expect regular tourist flights in your lifetime.

  2. Am not sure I’d want to go to Mars with any of these ‘volunteers’. They all seem a tad ‘off’ center if not daffy altogether.. cept for Jeremias?

    Would I go on a one way trip to Mars? THAT would depend on what tools were available in my toolbox and what the retinue or crew compliment would be. I’d like an even mix of male to female – not so much for sex but for more complete input in the decision making. But seriously, lets work on getting the VASMIR (or similar high impulse engine) going and make it possible for a return trip.

    I can hear it now… “Are we there yet?”

    1. Heee! Females as complements for decision inputs??? Have you really tried to have a lasting relation with one of those aliens? And you spelled your VASIMR wrong, Mr. Expert.

      1. Mr. Expert? And yes.. I do get the plethora of acronyms NASA and other gov’t agencies use confused at times. Who doesn’t?

    2. I’ve seen in some interviews with Chang-Diaz himself that the VASIMR engine would require power akin to a nuclear reactor to power the fast transportation that has been advertised. It’s a novel propulsion method, but not one within reach in the next few decades.

      Here’s a quote from Discover Magazine: “…the only thing that’s compact and concentrated enough to supply a spacecraft with tens of megawatts of electricity (enough to power about 10,000 homes) is a lightweight nuclear fission reactor — something that does not yet exist. “

  3. No one notes that several billion people “intend to die on Earth!” I’ve constantly teased my children that I would like to retire to Mars. One third gravity should feel good on old joints. Why go? Because science. The rovers are good, but no match for a human. I could cheerfully explore and discover for as long as possible. Take enough equipment for a decent lab. Side benefit, imagine the Astronomy Picture of the Day possibilities! I would be intending to live on Mars….dying happens everywhere.

    Even if he never gets to Mars, Elon Musk is firing up the imaginations of young want to be engineers – the ones we need if we are going to someday explore our solar system.

  4. “Eventually just 4 people will be packed into a spacecraft and blasted off to the Red Planet in 2018.”

    Typo. 2018 is the planned launch date for their lander. First crew wouldn’t launch until 2026.

  5. I stopped watching the video after the second person, a woman from Iraq, was asked about sex as well. I felt a lack of credibility when the main focus of the first two interviews was sex, which in my opinion should be one of the least important factors of the entire mission. While an important part of life, I don’t see the need for the emphasis in this particular instance. Also, what would make sex “not possible” in a mars colonization? Am I missing something, or did the “interviewer” say it wouldn’t be possible?

    1. That is true! A mission to Mars has to focus on the dress code and the very strict religious diet of the islamists crew. The entire mission will be delayed by decades just to fit in the mosque module in the spacecraft, where the islamonauts can shout at their imagined God.

    2. It is possible i would say but i would imagine it would look like snow globe in there after a while lol..

    3. It does come across as a little odd, but such a long term space mission would be a major experiment in psychology and it would be very important to nail down every possible aspect – including sexual frustration. We are all human after all, and humans have a tendency to go a bit bonkers after a while in extreme conditions. You don’t want people to go bonkers in close quarters with other people, in delicate machines that cost billions.

    4. That’s the point I became I interested. A really tasty blonde called Maggie Liu from the UK is down to the last 600 and she said she will likely get romantic with one of the fellow volunteers. I’ve since made my Mars One application. If I male it I know I will die happy on Mars now.

  6. Its always going to be dangerous to venture out into space at this point in time, but somebodys got to get out there if we want to keep moving forward. Like the hawk said.. we will have to recolonise at some point. May as well get started.

    ..or sit around waiting for someone to build the starship enterprise

  7. These stories rarely consider the legal issues. No discharge of liability form on Earth can stop a would-be-colonist from having a hissy-fit and demanding to be brought home. Finding volunteers is not the problem, finding someone daft enough to risk billions of dollars on these one-way missions is the problem (well, that and technology).

  8. Technically, I’m a mechanical/manufacturing and aerospace engineering student who’s long-life vision is to become a Space Engineer; which includes evrything from Zero-G to Martina colonization. This lucky set of people are opportuned to extend the human race on Mars and I’ld love to be shortlisted

  9. I might be wrong, but I think that our time and money could better be spent on fixing earth. I just can’t get in my head what you big dreamers envision. It will be done for sure, but not in my lifetime.

    1. Yeah, you’re right! NASA wastes almost 0.5% of the federal budget (which increased about 6% this year, for comparison, the rate of increase is twelve times the NASA budget). You are right. All governmental investments in fighting pollution and poverty should also be abolished. It is more important to instead solve the problems on Earth. Stop wasting money on climate policy, solve the problems on Earth instead! The two of them are opposites, just like you already understand so very well.

  10. I seem to recall that Mars One was seeking married couples, yet the video seems to suggest that people with no earthly ties would be the best candidates. Have Mars One changed their mind, or is this just how The Guardian see it? I hope these three are selected – they are obviously very driven people and undistracted by primeval instincts, they will focus 100% on the goal. Respect is due to Ryan – it takes guts to admit to being a virgin, especially on camera (most men are so brainwashed by society that they would rather die than admit that).

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