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For the first time, mankind will be setting foot on its next door planet, Mars. Sponsored by a Dutch nonprofit foundation called Mars One, participants will go on a one-way journey to Mars starting in 2026.
Mars One will be sending 24 volunteers to the Red Planet in hopes of establishing a colony there. Though over 200,000 people applied in 2011 to visit the planet, the foundation only chose 100 candidates. The remaining unselected pool will partake in group trials to assess their skills and readiness for a rigorous life on an alien planet. The contenders will have to be both physically and mentally fit to endure manual labor and lifelong social isolation.
Before the volunteers embark on the arduous seven month long journey, Mars One will conduct an unmanned mission in 2020 to prepare for the settlement. The initial crew will depart in 2026, and subsequent teams will be departing every 26 months. The organization will make six teams consisting of four people each.
The foundation estimates that the first mission will cost about $6 billion and around $4 billion for each landing thereafter. Merchandise, sponsorships, private partnerships, and sales of broadcasting rights generate monetary funds. Mars One also has a crowdfunding Indiegogo page, which has raised over $300,000 over the span of two months.
There are several THHS students who aspire to be a part of this ambitious project. Senior Jonathan Lee is among the few who would volunteer for this expedition, as he claims that “it would definitely make life more exciting than it could ever be on Earth.”
While this may seem like a suicide mission to some, these pioneers who are willing to leave behind their loved ones to live on the barren land of Mars will bring scientists the crucial knowledge of life on a planet still foreign to us.