Even before the space race of the late 50s between USSR and the USA, people had shown great interest in exploring beyond our planets boarders. Being an astronaut was a dream many of us once had as a child, however, the reality of this has taken a further step backwards from becoming a reality, due in part to recent budget cuts to various space agencies. Yet space travel is once again in the public eye and it’s there thanks to an unlikely saviour: television.
Finding funding for large scale missions into space is no easy feat, for a country to fund such a project requires a lot of justification. Spending untold billions on a manned mission to Mars for example would be hard to justify when those billions could be used to solve many of the country’s more pressing domestic problems.
This is where television comes in, specifically, reality television. Shows like “Big Brother” and “I’m A Celebrity” pull in a large TV audience, now, just imagine the audience that a reality TV show could pull in if it was set on Mars. This is the idea of Bas Lansdorp, the Dutch entrepreneur behind “Mars One”. The current time scale has a group of four living on Mars by the year 2023.
The funding for this project will come from broadcasting the entire process from astronaut selection to daily life on Mars all as a reality TV show. The project is clearly a very ambitious one and is still a long way off fruition, however space travel has always been ambitious, this does not make it impossible. The trouble with this sort of project is that the majority of the returns will come after 2023 with the life of the men and women being filmed whilst they work on Mars. This means that the initial cost of the project is monumentally high and thus may prevent the project even getting off the ground.
The project does however have the backing of many well known names including the Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist Dr. Gerard ‘t Hooft, an official ambassador for the project. He makes note of the various problems which will face the venture but goes onto say that the overcoming of these problems will entice the TV audience. One of the initial concerns of the project was the issue of applicants, this trip will only be one-way so the people that go to Mars will have to live the rest of their lives there. There is no need for concern because it has recently been announced that over 8000 applicants have applied, this has allayed any fears the project may have had.
Regardless of this projects outcome renewed public interest in science can only be a good thing. If you are struggling with what exactly to do after graduation, perhaps you should consider the Mars One project, and just remember the quote from the recent Lynx competition “Nothing beats an astronaut”.