Imagine: it's 2030, and you've booked a ticket to Mars. You're now a space colonist, the vanguard of human civilization. You travel ten months in a vacuum in order to arrive at the desolate Red Planet to experience something that the other six or seven billion people on Earth could only fantasize about. And, of course, you'll be staying on Mars forever--otherwise known as until you die. Because that was, in fact, the deal you made when you volunteered for this one-way mission back in 2010. Bring it on, right?
That appears to be the sentiment of Peter Greaves and his 399 fellow would-be Mars colonists, profiled by Maxim Lott in Fox News. The catalyst behind Greaves decision to throw in his lot in as a potential space traveler appears to be last year's special edition of the Journal of Cosmology--in which the editors detail "exactly how a privately-funded, one-way mission to Mars could depart as soon as 20 years from now." The issue proved so buzz-worthy that the editors received detailed letters from eager volunteers who'd be ready and willing to leave their Earthly possessions behind for a chance to make history. Here's one computer programmer's plea:
"I do VERY well with solitude," he wrote of his qualifications. "I am handy with tools, very good at making things work, have generated my own solar energy, built three houses (with my own hands) and am quite sane and stable."
Unfortunately, the prospect that NASA would choose these candidates as potential astronauts for a Mars mission appears to be quite slim. "Currently, the requirement of a college degree in science, engineering, or math--followed by years of professional experience--would probably disqualify most," said NASA spokesman James Hartsfield to Fox News. But if this is a privately-funded expedition to Mars, there's be no need for those meddlesome requirements. There's only a problem of finding adequate funding to get that private 400-person spacecraft off the ground.