After only two weeks into their open call for applicants, Mars One has seen over 78,000 people sign up for a chance to earn a one-way ticket to Mars, and as of today, 37 Canadians are among the applicants.
These adventuresome Canadians are anywhere between the ages of 18 and 47 years old, and include 33 men and 4 women. Each applicant's record includes some basic details about them, as well as an introduction and a video of them stating the reason why they want to undertake this dangerous and historic mission. Some are dreamers. Some are explorers. Others want to find personal meaning for their own lives, or want to help humanity to push our boundaries out into space.
One of the applicants is Andrew Rader, who was just named Canada's Greatest Know-It-All by the Discovery Channel. Rader is already a space scientist, having earned a PhD from MIT in 'long-duration human spaceflight' and he's worked as an engineer on six different Canadian space missions. He even applied to the Canadian Space Agency's astronaut recruitment campaign a few years back, and signed up for the AXE Apollo space academy so that he could conduct a student experiment in space.
As his video channel on YouTube shows, he is passionate about human exploration of space, especially in one of his recent videos, entitled "Why is space important?":
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Rader answered questions about the dangers of the mission, and whether it will actually happen.
"There are enormous risks," he said. "That being said, I think that the risks are worth taking. I mean, major leaps required major risks. Life is short, life is precious and that's why you really should do major things that you believe in."
"The chances of it actually getting carried out as stated are extraordinarily slim," he added. "[But] I think there is a very small chance that if all the dominoes fall in the right place, it could happen."
According to the interview, most of Rader's family is supportive, although apparently his aunt considers it to be a suicide mission.
Technically, Rader's aunt may have a point, although perhaps not in such a depressing way.
If successful, this endeavour will be a one-way trip for anyone who goes. They will live out the rest of their lives and die on Mars, whether that's the day they arrive or several decades later. The people at Mars One have made no illusions about that, and the potential colonists will have the next nine years to figure out if they really want (and are cut out) to do this.
The bigger question is whether or not the mission will even get off the ground. The technology certainly exists, and there is no shortage of people who are interested in becoming one of the first Mars colonists. However, the big uncertainty is whether Mars One can raise the money they need, as a large amount of the funds are apparently going to come from turning the entire mission into an interplanetary reality TV show.
Watching what goes on with the colony would certainly be worth tuning in, but some have already pointed out that the plan could be in jeopardy since networks may be reluctant to sign on if the astronauts are able to turn off the cameras on their end. That lack of control on the networks' part might sink their chances of getting the money they need.
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However, even with the risks and uncertainties involved in the mission, the future of humanity is in space, and the sooner we start, the better. Until we find planets out in the galaxy that can actually support us and invent the propulsion system to get us there in a reasonable amount of time, places like Mars are our best bet for off-world colonization. Time will tell if Mars One's plan will work, but in the mean time, good luck to Andrew Rader and all the other Canadian applicants!
(Image courtesy: Mars One/Youtube)
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