January 11

COMMENTARY: One-way trip to Mars draws unusual crowd

Lewis Diuguid

A lot of people clamor to be the first to try something new, but to be in the premiere crowd for a one-way trip to Mars seems a bit far-fetched.

Yet, more than 200,000 people last summer applied for that seat to the red planet, the Los Angeles Times reported. They submitted their video applications to a nonprofit group called Mars One, based in the Netherlands.

The organization’s goal is to turn the colonization of Mars into a reality show, appealing to an Earth-bound audience. The applications went out in April to people over age 18.

Mars One’s intention is to pick people physically and mentally capable of making the months-long trip, which could be 34.8 million miles in the closest distance the two planets come to each other, or 249 million miles when they are farthest apart. The pool picked includes 472 women and 586 men.

More than half are under age 35, but 26 are over age 56. The applicants come from 107 countries, including the United States, which had 297 people wanting to be part of the one-way journey.

In the next two years, Mars One plans to whittle down the number to about 40. Those persons then will undergo training in groups for seven years.

A global audience will vote on which team will go to Mars in 2025. Mars One plans to send a lander to the red planet in 2018 and is working with Lockheed Martin Corp. to develop a mission concept study.

Imagine being picked, making the trip and then being voted off the planet. Stay tuned.

Lewis W. Diuguid is a member of The Kansas City Star’s Editorial Board. Email at Ldiuguid@kcstar.com. This column was distributed by MCT Information Services.

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