Life on Mars? Dutch company to offer one-way trips to the Red Planet

Jan. 09, 2013 | 1:49 p.m.

In 1990’s “Total Recall,” Arnold Schwarzenegger had a simple directive to himself: “Get your ass to Mars.” Now a nonprofit Dutch company is promising to help real-world tourists do just that.

Mars One has announced plans to establish a colony on Mars by 2023 and they’re about to begin looking for prospective Martian pioneers.

While the requirements for NASA’s astronaut program are demanding, assuring only the finest and fittest of humans will ever make it into space, Mars One is casting a wide net. Their requirements are resiliency, adaptability, curiosity, ability to trust, creativity and resourcefulness.

What about the ability to fly a spaceship or solve unforeseen, unimaginable problems being one of the first humans on an alien planet? Those, evidently, are skills that one picks up with time.

Mars One only asks that applicants be at least 18 years of age (they will be 28 by the time they land on Mars), speak English and don’t have any pressing business on Earth — ever. This is a one-way kind of deal.

PHOTOS: Mars in pop culture

After submitting themselves to the selection process, the chosen astronauts will then be entered into a full-time training program that will prepare them for their 2022 blast-off date. In the meantime, Mars One plans to send preparatory probes and rovers with supplies to the planet as early as 2016. The first group of four colonists will follow a few years later, with a new team of colonists arriving every two years after that.

How does this group expect to fund this effort, which would surely cost in the multiple billions of dollars? Reality TV, of course! Mars One plans to televise every aspect of the mission and involve the whole world in the run up to the launch. As Nobel Prize-winning physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft says in Mars One’s introductory video, “This is going to be a media spectacle. ‘Big Brother’ will pale in comparison.”

So in other words, while NASA astronauts will be walking in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong, potential Mars One astronauts will be walking in the footsteps of Donald Trump.

Arnold Schwarzenegger on a populated Mars in "Total Recall" (Lionsgate)

Arnold Schwarzenegger on a populated Mars in “Total Recall.” (Lionsgate)

The Mars One project is the brainchild of co-founders Bas Lansdorp, an entrepreneur who previously founded the wind energy company Ampyx Power; and Arno Wielders, who also works as a payload study manager for the European Space Agency. These two aren’t alone, of course. The company’s website features a whole roster of international scientists who are serving as advisors.

Though the video introducing the mission makes it seem very simple, there are many complications springing from a manned mission to Mars that science is only beginning to seriously grapple with. As reported in the Times, a recent 17-month simulated Mars mission in Moscow revealed that the sleep habits of crew members would be dramatically affected, as would their output during the months-long trip to the planet.

The Dutch crew aren’t the only private entrepreneurs with their eye on Mars, though. Space X founder Elon Musk has also discussed his plans to establish a Mars colony in the next few decades.

Who will be first? And more importantly, will we like what we find there?

— Patrick Kevin Day

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex


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74 Responses to Life on Mars? Dutch company to offer one-way trips to the Red Planet

  1. dumbat says:

    Wow, imagine a whole world populated by reality tv show contestants!

  2. jester says:

    "Wow, imagine a whole world populated by reality tv show contestants!" sounds dangerous and volitile. Those people selected are usually the dumbest people the network producers could dig up. lets hope thats not what they are going for.

  3. dan says:

    One way, you say? Good idea..let's put Bush, Cheney, Putin, Al-Assad, Mubarak, Palin and Bachman on the first flight…and pray for a navigational error that takes 'em to Neptune instead.

  4. Jolley says:

    Can we nominate a few people we'd like removed from earth?

  5. Hey, a perfect place for all those who hate "big gummint"!

    I like the idea of a one-way trip!

  6. guest says:

    like the idea of colonization, but i am skeptical that these guys have achieved proof of concept technically.

  7. jenna says:

    Currently don't have a way to land a human safely on Mars, without turning them into putty. If they are lucky enough to survive that, it won't be a very long reality series, I'm sure.

  8. Calvin says:

    "Goodbye cruel world, hello strange new world."

  9. sarahliz says:

    A whole world populated by reality tv show contestants sounds a bit like a world populated by telephone sanitizers and account executives.

  10. guest says:

    Who would want to do this? Mars' atmosphere does not support human life, and nothing will grow there without water. Even if the 'travelers' made the journey, the environment would be so hostile, they may only survive for a short period, if at all.

    • GarryKE says:

      Perhaps this isn't a solid plan but I've read many articles on the discussion of terraforming the planet for suitable human conditions. While this would be a century-long process, or maybe longer, it might just be worth it. However, no one said this is the plan though but I would imagine there's a hidden, potentially related agenda there somewhere. Rather than send astronauts I see how sending the corrupted, backwards world leaders who lie and cheat their country would be more beneficial; they could run their own country the way they want and away from us

    • Sylvia says:

      Actually, there is water on Mars, and what they are proposing is to build transparent domes and pressurize them with oxygen and nitrogen, allowing plants access to sunlight and the already present nutrients in the Martian soil. I see no reason that they couldn’t do the same for houses. I agree that the environment would be extremely hostile, but the plans that I have seen say that they could survive largely on a vegan diet. The problem that I have seen they are running into is drilling into the Martian aquafers without disturbing any potential present ecosystems they believe may be out there.

  11. ben says:

    And if they do survive landing and the lack of a magnetosphere… they'll be dead or insane in a few years. And we'll get to watch it on TV.

  12. Ford Prefect says:

    This sounds exactly like how Earth was populated in Hitchhiker's Guide. Hairdressers, janitors, and phone sanitizers….

  13. bewildered says:

    I'm baffled. First, WHY would anyone want to do this–as a ONE-WAY trip?! Second, why is it one-way–since they're going to continually add new colonists every two years? Am I missing something? When a new group of colonists arrives…why can't some of the previous people leave?

    • Kat says:

      Im sure they will find people who would want to be the first to go to Mars and make history. And maybe people who dont really have much going for them would like to see what's out there.

    • dodging tomatoes says:

      The ships won't be coming back. Those are one way too.

    • Scrumdiddly says:

      Think about it. How are those people going to leave when the new group gets there?

    • Elisabetta Bruno says:

      Well, how hard and how many resources does it take for people to leave Earth orbit? How complicated are launches at this time?

      That's basically why. Secondly if the Astronauts stay in Mars for that long, they may not be able to adapt to Earth atmosphere again.

      When we sent people to the Moon, there was what is called the "service module" with an astronaut in it that orbited around the Moon at all times. That astronaut never landed on the moon, while the other two used the landing module. They would then rendez-vous back to the service module when the mission was completed, which would then burn its engines to go back to Earth.

      I don't know how that would work for 2 years running.

    • Andrew says:

      Basically it's an issue of takeoff. I don't understand all of the science behind it, but I've been reading that, while it's fairly easy to land on Mars, that it's next to impossible to takeoff without some massive power source. We'll see though, maybe science will catch up to it and they'll be able to. Also, leaving would mean another 10 years of travel….I'd rather just stay.

  14. Dave says:

    Please tell me I fell asleep for several months and this is really April First…

  15. BigBallsBobby says:

    There are no doctors in mars or adequate help in case of emergencies. You would be dependent on the food supply coming in, you can't grow anything in mars. People age as well, if you can't come back and you are too old to be of any use over there, what then? Who ever decides to go is going to be sorry.

  16. Gulgr Ahmed 2tool says:

    I want to join this mission . I believe that I am a Cosmo traveler .

  17. @Venuke says:

    seems to be they will need a vet for treat Martians :))) .. then consider i'm in ..

  18. LibsAreCosmicRejects says:

    Sorry all, they're only boarding LIBERALS for this one-way exile in order to save Earth


  19. kris says:

    I will go I’m not afraid. Ive been a cerified aircraft mechanic for 10 years, and I was in the air force for 10 years. Where do I sign, did I mention I’m also a pilot? Not joking, E-mail me.

    • larrymaden says:

      Did you go to their site – www., to sign up?
      I have a similar skill set, in manufacturing engineering, and am with you on this one, but I am probably too old to be picked.
      We should keep in touch (e-mail: and start a group of B-listers, who want to go, but are not likely to, because of age or other factors. We might be able to affect their decision process. The kids are going to need some wise direction.

  20. GenePoolThinner says:

    Lets send prisoners. It'll be like being exiled. Besides slaves built railroads….don''t have those anymore…. but there are plenty of people in jail for a long time….

    • reallly? says:

      this commment makes no sense. besides saying send prisoners what are you saying? slaves are nothing like prisoners you fool and if you see it that way you are sick. prisoners are serving time slaves were forced

  21. Malarodos says:

    Nice, Send Obama!

  22. Guest101 says:

    Well, If they supply green house gas generators and strategically have them placed over the planet then withing 100 years the atmosphere of Mars could be terraformed. The people heading there (if responsible enough) would have to seriously manage their food supply, oxygen content, and water supply (if unable to tap into possible ground resources). Perhaps the martian atmosphere could sustain basic vegetable life???, but the radiation from solar winds and storms will wipe out most living things on that planet within a few years unless we can build huge nuclear powered magnetic field generators on both the northern and southern poles of Mars.

  23. Johnjon says:

    I think sarah palin should be on the first ship.

  24. alien2 says:

    Mars is free of microorganisms. Its a good place for microphobics. : D

  25. Nobody says:

    I say lets make Mars the ultimate maximum pennel colony , Escape now , I want to see it. And maybe if there is a real chance of Life WITHOUT the possiblility of parole , then these jackasses will STOP being a damn danger to society and take responsibility for their damn actions

  26. Toufiq says:

    I want to go in MARS. You can Send me.

  27. John Cluff says:

    Exciting and interesting; goodbye cruel world.
    —Jack C.

  28. Shiroto says:

    The perfect anniversary gift.

  29. donfitness says:

    Perfect. Let's send all of the current reality TV personalities to Mars… for good.

  30. Casey Burns says:

    What happens to the colonists when they cancel the show due to bad ratings – and the cash stops flowing in? Are they simply told "Sorry" and left to fend for themselves?

  31. Jeffrey says:

    dumbass idea if I ever heard one

  32. sabrina says:

    Someone put Rush Limbaugh, Sarah and Bristol Palin, Anne Coulter, Paris Hilton, the Octomom, the Kardashians, Lindsey Lohan and all the annoying reality show denizens on the inaugural launch….PLEEEEAASE! LOL

  33. Lawrence CHow says:

    One way trip!!! included is 100 cans of spam and tv dinners and dvd movies.

  34. Joe says:

    I am taking deposits now for the return trip.

  35. leonaks says:

    By 2023 there will be a developed nano-tube tether to attach to a space elevator.

    It is the space elevator which will make space travel economically affordable.

  36. Fred says:

    I love reading stories like this, and quietly laughing my ass off. Everyone always dances around the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, and that gorilla is … the fact that our greatest scientific minds have no idea how we would ever solve the problem of radiation shielding. Once astronauts leave the protection of the Earth's magnetosphere, they are exposed to deadly levels of gamma radiation coming from the background of space, not to mention the likelihood that our own sun just burbs occasionally. No one can survive the trip to Mars, and no one knows how we will ever solve that problem. And before you start flaming me, and telling me about launching giant magnets, or giant balls of lead, that's all been discussed, and dismissed as impossible. Get over it.

  37. Ree says:

    Don't you think maybe a LOT more studies on the red planet should be conducted prior to sending people there? We don't even know what type of resources or hazards are there. Oh, and never mind some of the supplies will be 7 YEARS old and probably damaged by harsh atmosphere before people even get there (provided they actually DO get there). Thinking this is another 'hype' media money making scheme with zero plans to place anyone anywhere near the upper atmosphere… much less Mars. Someone will just line their pockets with the money made from gullible idiots that watch the crappy reality shows already. Every scientest involved will face ridicule for being involved in such a lame brained scheme to make money. Sad sad sad.

  38. Chad says:

    I've gotta believe this is a suicide mission.

  39. aromus says:

    day 1 walked on red dirt.
    day 2 played with red dirt.
    day 4 ate red dirt.
    day 4 died from eating red dirt.

  40. nme says:

    What happens when the TV audience gets bored? Who would fund the project at that point? How would the supplies continue? Who would pay for upkeep on the lines of communication? Would the colonists be forced to raise the funds themselves or to do without and be completely self-reliant (which is obviously the ultimate goal, but could it be done in the matter of a few years?) ??

  41. SES says:

    Seems like baby steps should be taken to get to Mars. They should really focus on mastering the travel to get there first. Maybe then it wouldn't have to be a one way trip. Plus, if it costs so much to send people in the first place, I can't imagine how much it'll cost to sustain human life on a planet with hostile conditions. Probably not likely to happen, but in Total Recall, I recall them building the colonies under ground to avoid radiation and wind storms. That seems like a better idea to colonize in any caverns on Mars rather than setting up housing structures on the surface. Like someone else said too, there had better be doctors on the voyage there in case of a mishap. Sounds faulty if they are only looking to send 4 people to start off with. Hate to be cynical as I would love to see Mars become a reality, but I don't think it's in humanity's cards. If only the nations could pool their resources to come together for massive space travel, then I'd be convinced.

    • Fred says:

      This has been asked by others, but nobody will ever be able to come up with a good answer for the simplest question: "WHY?"

  42. mohammad kamal says:

    i blive that man can do everything whatever he like.everything is possibile

  43. The Dweller says:

    you can say whatever you want… it won't be allowed. It's not uninhabited.

  44. Hassan Rashed says:

    i want to go on Mars but how cost?

  45. Hassan Rashed says:

    I haven’t money but want to go on Mars ! ! !

  46. Large knob says:

    Remote viewers have already discovered despondent people on mars working on a base, who volunteered for the one way trip already. They face hardship, and are said to possibly be human. Intelligent Martian life is also residing on the planet.
    I think this may be a plan to expose the world to alien life. What better medium than reality t.v for us idiots, to make it taste better.
    The real big brother is probably waiting for people like me to make these unfounded comments I'm sure.
    Maybe we are selling slaves to the locals on the planet for some kind of exchange!
    Don't sign up! Especially if you are gen y. You have never challenged proper gander.

  47. Todd Green says:

    I know it’s a long way away and before I go I will be triple checking the check list for myself and being a one way trip I ill only go if I can take my one ton Excavator, If on this planet or the next we will alway need earthworks but we will call it Marswork

  48. Tony Buzek says:

    I am really not sure that we should stuff up a new living space for planet Earth's population by sending a bunch of dead-beat politicians…It seems like it would be a great experiment…and if it actually worked, how good would it be to look back at Earth with a telescope and be able to send time delayed messages…

  49. cser says:

    hahah send all the criminals free earth

  50. bobby says:

    can I phone home? :-)

  51. Guest says:

    The quality of comments here is abysmal…

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