Some things to think about before you apply to go to space with Mars One

Mars One wants to send human beings on a one-way trip to Mars by 2023, funding the mission via the proceeds of a reality television show about human settlers on Mars. If you're like me, part of your brain is going "Awesome!" and part of it is going "Aw, hell no!" And there's good reason to listen to your pessimistic side, says space junkie Amy Shira Teitel. If Mars One actually happens, there are many ways this could go horribly wrong — from the funding model to the technology.


  1. I never thought I would read the words “reality show” and “Mission to Mars” in the same article.
    I suppose they thought that human beings landing on Mars wasn’t quite dramatic enough.

    1. You’ll love the cliffhanger episode where the audience gets to call in and vote on who is least worthy of a share of the rapidly dwindling oxygen supply!

      Remember how ‘Survivor’ started out as a ratings bonanza? Same thing, only with people getting voted out of the airlock, and crazy jealous catfights in delicate inflatable habidomes!

  2. You think imaginary manufactured drama on reality shows is a problem now, wait until someones supply launch depends on their ratings.

    Ooops, now getting visions of hunger games in space.

  3. Oh cmon.  This was posted previously on April 1, and we all knew what it was.  Joke’s over, guys.

  4.  If you watched Lost in Space and thought “Great! So what’s the problem?”…

  5. So, it might go horribly wrong.

    It’s still way better than NASA’s insanely cautious (and therefore insanely expensive) approach. We just can’t afford that anymore.

    Time to just start catapulting random people in the general direction of Mars. First one to make it alive gets to be a hero! What’s not to like?

    1. One minor problem: When a huge portion of the cost of any project is shoving it out of earth’s gravity well and toward mars, the ‘eh, just accept some risks on the payload end’ strategy is something of a false economy.

      Just to get to LEO, the launch price is what, ~$10,000/kg? Unless a bold crash program also has a bold crash low-cost transport system, pinching pennies on the payload is about the worst possible place to try to economize. Anything we ship to Mars more or less automatically costs as much as though it were handmade from gold plated unobtanium by swiss watch gnomes. Some small additional engineering costs incurrred to ensure that it isn’t scrap 20 minutes after hitting the ground just seem like a good plan.

      Honestly, the real sign of our lack of seriousness, RE: Mars, is the near-total lack of earth-based habitat experiments. Compared to flight costs, ‘Biosphere 2’ style enclosed ecosystem experiments cost absolute peanuts, can trivially be run in parallel, and don’t require everyone to suffocate in the cold depths of space if you mess up. You just take notes, open the door, and start the next test.

      If anybody were actually serious, we’d be seeing a lot more terrestrial enclosure tests and R&D into recycling systems and small-scale ecologies. 

      1. In addition, more such experiments would offer valuable insights into the workings of the one viable biosphere we know of. Given climate change, we may need to learn about terraforming Earth so that it continues to be inhabitable, nevermind any fantasies about colonizing a nearly airless, frigid rock.

  6. Doesn’t anyone else think that is no real plan to go to Mars, just a scam for a money making TV show?

    1.  Even if there is, sort of – theoretically – an actual plan, ten years is an awfully long time in the world of TV.  NASA can plan missions on that time scale.  Reality TV has to be wildly successful and frequently renewed to get remotely close to 10 years.

      and they won’t get remotely close.  Even if it’s not technically a scam, there is no way that this comes together.  Absolutely none.

    2.  During college, a performing arts major at the school did a yearlong project where we was claiming that he would launch a VW Scirocco into space. He streamed a 3-day stay inside the “ship”, had exhibitions of different stages of the spacesuit and craft, etc…I think he had quite a bit of the campus pretty well convinced that, even if he wan’t going to make it into space, he certainly believed it. In the end, the turnout for the “launch” was insane. So, art, scam, it’s in the eye of the beholder. I mean people believed Blair Witch was real, but even now that it’s common knowledge that it wasn’t, it was still genre-defining for some.

    3. If you mean picking dim-witted contestants, drugging them, and putting them in a red-dust-strewn set telling them they are now on “Mars” after an extended “space hibernation”, then I’d watch that show. I’d watch it all day long.

  7. The Marching Morons. CM Kornbluth.

    Might be readable here:


    20270424-123505 EDT [Emil AT MarsOneProduction.showbiz> MarsOneGeneral AT showbiz.mars”] Production to Mars One, this is Emil. I need you to go ahead and confirm you received today’s scripts.”

    20270424-172246 MST [BertE AT MarsOneProduction.showbiz.mars > Emil AT
    MarsOneProduction.showbiz] “Yeah, we got it, but really? It’s been 2 sols since Krystal walked out the fucking airlock.”

    20270424-151125 EDT [Emil AT  MarsOneProduction.showbiz > BertE  AT MarsOneProduction.showbiz.mars, MarsOneGeneral AT MarsOneProduction.showbiz.mars] “Bert, or anyone else who gets this, we really need to get that script distributed and rehearsed. We’re due to go live at 11 tomorrow your time.”

    20270424-212216 MST [MarsCoyote@MarsOneProduction.showbiz.mars > Emil AT

    MarsOneProduction.showbiz] “Emil, we got the script. What is this crap about a  StayFree product placement? I haven’t used ‘protection’ I didn’t have to wash for two years.”

    20270425-010210 EDT [Emil@MarsOneProduction.showbiz > MarsCoyote AT
    ] “You only need to show the box, Lulu. We sent an image file sized to fit around a ration container. Just print it out and cut along the dotted lines and tape it on.”

    20270425-042246 MST [BertE AT MarsOneProduction.showbiz.mars > Emil AT

    MarsOneProduction.showbiz] “KRYSTAL, Emil. What about KRYSTAL???”

    20270425-060310 EDT [Emil@MarsOneProduction.showbiz > BertE  AT MarsOneProduction.showbiz.mars, MarsOneGeneral AT MarsOneProduction.showbiz.mars
    ] “We’re still running that past the focus group, Bert. I’ve seen a rough draft of a five-day arc where Krystal finds an artifact and gets absorbed into the ancient Martian Overmind. Can you find someone willing to wear her suit for the outside scenes? We’ll CGI in her face in post.”

  9. Where are you going to find enough telephone sanitizers, middle managers and hair dressers to go on this trip? What if they get sent back in time? Do you really want to have the initial population of earth started with these morons?

    Sorry. Wrong show.

  10. At least it’s good to know I wasn’t the only one thinking “One-way trip to Mars? What could possibly go wrong?”

  11. I was all amped up to throw my application in, but my poor record of brushing my teeth during childhood has significantly lowered my chances of being picked, as has my poor eye sight :(

  12. start farming the land

    And that’s when I realized that they were insane in the membrane.

Comments are closed.