Dutch-based venture Mars One wants to beat NASA to the red planet. How does it plan to beat NASA's 2035 target? By making the mission one-way only.
Sixty-four ordinary Canadians are among thousands globally who have applied to take the voyage, as applicants are not required to have any specialized training. The Globe and Mail caught up with eight of these men and women to ask them - why Mars?
Madison Boratto, 27: ‘Terrifying.’
Madison Boratto, 27
Advertising student at Humber College, Toronto
I do secretly love space. I’ve been watching space documentaries since I was 13. I find it fascinating and also terrifying.
I’m really looking forward to seeing space in person and living that great adventure – it’s like something out of a movie.
Last year, my sister Maija died. We were very close. When I stumbled on the Mars One website, I felt peaceful, like I could, in a sense, go to heaven and be closer to her.
Being on television all the time will be a bit weird [Mars One would raise some of the funds for the mission by selling the broadcast rights to live feeds of training and life in the shuttle]. I think from a scientific standpoint and the advancement of the human race, having the world tune in and see what another planet is like is worth it. You have to be a little crazy to do something like this, but you do have to go with a sense of purpose or you’ll get lost along the way.
Jeremy Goodwin, 40: ‘Beginning.’
Jeremy Goodwin, 40
Architecture student at Dalhousie University, mental-health housing worker in Vancouver
I read the sci-fi series The Mars Trilogy about 20 years ago and it made a big impression on me. It was all about the deep implications of colonization of Mars.
What does it mean if the project actually works and this is beginning of a new society? There’s never been this possibility in our history. People have this idealistic idea of what changes could be made if we start again. I have those thoughts as well, so I think what might discourage me is, if it turned out the mission would create an advantage for certain groups of people. Like mining or something.
I have a lifetime of really wonderful experiences, climbing mountains, swimming in the ocean, riding my bike, and I’ll always have those. Mars is simply the next experience. Of course, there will be technical challenges.
I sold all my possessions when I moved in 2009, so I’m quite used to not having things. I’ve just started playing the ukulele, though, so that would definitely be coming.
Pamela Nicoletatos, 39: ‘Discovery.’
Pamela Nicoletatos, 39
Home-schooling mother from White Rock, B.C., now in the Netherlands
I love space and sci-fi, so when the opportunity arose, it seemed kind of silly not to take it. My husband is really supportive, and my two kids, 12 and 14, are excited to say that their mom is a Martian.
Humanity is sorting spinning in a circle at the moment and we need another outlet more than anything else. Another direction for discovery. I would like to think that, whatever we do discover on Mars – technology, motivation, concepts for morality – we could apply back on Earth.
I’m realistic about radiation exposure, landing and surviving, but I think since Mars One has announced the project, other organizations have stepped up and said, “Hey, we’ve been working on these things as well.” I think the mission is quite plausible.
If I go, I’d want to take a time capsule of video messages to open if I’m having a bad day, a coffee machine, a laptop and my Ugg boots. I get cold feet.
Paul Kroeker, 46: ‘Cool.’
Paul Kroeker, 46
Bush pilot and oil-patch technician, Lloydminster, Alta.
We need to be on more than one planet. What if a giant asteroid comes and wipes us out? I mean it’s not going to happen next week, but it could.
The mission is privately run, so it’s got a better chance than anything the government can come up with because it doesn’t have all that extra staff. It’s a really good idea, but, if they can’t come up with the money, it’s done. When you start spending billions, it goes pretty quick. Or so I hear.
Two of my kids think the mission is cool and the other two think it’s nuts. When my wife and I got married, I asked, “If you could travel to another planet would you?” She said, “Of course!” I’m trying to get her to put her application in and maybe we could go together.
Andrew Rader, 34: ‘Vital.’
Andrew Rader, 34
Aerospace engineer, PhD in long-duration space flight from Ottawa now living in Lexington, Mass.
It is hostile, but it has all the elements we need to build things. There’s long-term potential for transforming it into somewhere that is less hostile and more Earth-like. The moon is safer and closer, but not nearly as interesting. Mars is far away, but compared with the stars, right next door. This kind of mission is vital to ensuring we survive ... worth risking a few lives.
Mining Mars for resources is the whole point of the mission. It will be very capitalist and there will be advertising. It creates a pioneering branch of civilization with a really innovative atmosphere. I don’t mind if there’s a big Coca-Cola sign on the ship. We’ve got to make a profit.
If the mission was organized by Bill Gates or NASA or Google, it would happen for sure. At the moment, I’d give it a 2 or 3 out of 10. It’s entirely down to money. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s technically possible.
Tyler Reyno, 20: ‘Life goal.’
Tyler Reyno, 20
Mechanical engineering student at Dalhousie and aspiring Canadian Forces pilot in Lower Sackville, N.S.
All of my life goals, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep, are oriented toward going to space one day. This mission is exactly what I am looking for. I’m also motivated to become the first Nova Scotian astronaut.
I’m not particularly scared of death. We are going to die on Mars whether it’s 20 or 30 years after landing or if there’s some unfortunate accident before landing. I guess, if something bad happened and I was the last person there, it could get lonely.
At the moment, one of the biological issues to overcome is the threat of rupturing the optical nerve in deep space, and arrive blind. I would say, if I arrived on Mars and was blind, the whole experience would be tarnished.
They say technology will just explode over the next 10 years. I would say the chances of landing on Mars are 10 out of 10.
Justin Semenoff, 34: ‘Amazing.’
Sgt. Justin Semenoff, 34
Army combat engineer, Saskatoon
I’m no Chris Hadfield, but to have the opportunity to go to Mars is the most exciting thing. As a kid, I’d spend countless nights staring at stars.
If we can look past ourselves to more big-picture items, I think we’ll be stronger as a whole. Seeing a human being walking on Mars would be amazing and it’s something we should shoot for.
I’ve got one son, Levi, and he’s incredible. He’s 13 right now and hugely supportive. As he was growing up, I was away for long periods so he’s used to that a bit. It wouldn’t be an easy transition, but he’s got my back.
I’m not too thrilled about being on TV all the time, but I look at it as necessary to get what I want.
Anything worth achieving is a little risky and some of the great travellers in history – the Vikings, Columbus – have taken that initial step. There are no guarantees in life, but look at the things we could learn. It’s amazing.
Petrus Lommers, 22: ‘Romantic.’
Petrus Lommers, 22
Construction worker, Whitehorse
I’ve not really had much time to realize any dreams, but I’m working my way there. The biggest one is to make a difference for the human race. I saw my opportunity with the Mars One project.
Everyone’s talking about overpopulation and we’re running a bit low on resources, so it would be good to have more space. Also there’s lots of resources on Mars. Mining would be a good option.
Mostly, though, it’s just the adventure. There’s something about space. It’s got a romantic feel to it. The strange things that might be out there. You can’t disprove things by sitting here doing nothing.
One of the goals of this project is not to be associated with any country or political influence. That seems quite honourable. For me, the biggest fear would be someone trying to muck that up.
I think making the trip one-way is necessary. A two-way trip just isn’t possible, and besides you might get there and say, “Why would you ever want to go back? It’s so awesome here.”