Reality TV show offers one-way trip to Mars

Are you crazy enough to sign up for a one-way trip to Mars?

Applications are being accepted by the makers of a Dutch reality show that says it will deliver the first humans to the red planet in 10 years.

The main requirements are strong health, good people and survival skills, being 18 or older, and having a reasonable grasp of the English language.

The company, called Mars One, aims to land its first four astronauts in 2023 for a televised reality show that would follow the exploits of the first humans to attempt to establish a colony on Mars.

Already, the organisers have received "10,000 emails from more than 100 different countries from people who are interested in joining us for this mission," said founder Bas Landsdorp at a news conference in a New York hotel.

In all they are seeking six groups of four people each. A new group would make the seven-month journey every two years after the first crew departs in 2022.

The cost for the first mission is about US$6 billion.

"It sounds like a lot of money. And actually it is a lot of money. But imagine what will happen when the first people land on Mars. Literally everybody on the globe will want to see it," Landsdorp said.

The project has garnered plenty of sceptics but is backed by Dutch Nobel laureate Gerard 't Hooft, who won the 1999 prize for physics.

The world's space agencies have only managed to send unmanned robotic rovers to Mars so far, the latest being Nasa's US$2.5 billion Curiosity rover that touched down in August 2012.

Major drawbacks to the proposed mission include the inability to return to Earth, the small living quarters and the lack of food on the dry planet. That is, if the radiation endured during the trip is not lethal, and if the volatile landing goes according to plan.

Key attributes for applicants, according to Mars One medical director Norbert Kraft, are being adaptable, resilient, creative and having empathy.

"Can you really work with other people from other countries, as a team?" he asked.

Many questions remain about how the astronauts would survive, breathe and drink on a planet with a temperature of -55C and whose atmosphere consists mainly of carbon dioxide.

But the company's representatives insisted that they believe they are within ethical guidelines by pursuing their mission.

"The long-term aim is to have a lasting colony,'' said Hooft. "This expansion will not be easy. How soon that will be accomplished is anyone's guess today."

- AFP

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