MarsOne, the non-profit organization that wants to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars by 2023, has finally unveiled its Astronaut Application Program during a press conference in New York, on April 22.
“Selecting these people will be a very difficult task,” said Nobel laureate and Mars One’s Ambassador, Gerard ‘t Hooft. “There shall be no exclusion on the basis of race, nationality, religion and gender.”
The astronaut selection process will also serve to raise the initial funding for the project. A fee is associated with the application’s submission, ranging from $5 to $75 depending on the gross national income of the applicant’s home country. In order to apply, the candidates must be age 18 years of age and submit a short video describing themselves and their motivation to take a one way trip to Mars with no possibility of return. No technical background or even knowledge of the English language is required. According to the MarsOne team, the astronaut candidates will have a few years to learn English if they don’t speak it already, after the selection.
The selection has been organized in 4 rounds. Round one will run until August 31, 2013. A team of Mars One experts will decide which applicants from the first phase will pass to round two and only after the first selection the candidate astronauts would need to get a medical statement of good health. MarsOne expects to shortlist 20-40 applicants in each country for the part of the selection process which will be broadcasted on TV and internet with winners voted for by the audience. The fourth round will see the candidates receiving specific training for the mission and from the 4th round contestants the final 4 astronauts will be selected.
MarsOne hopes to raise money via a reality television show following the astronaut selection and training process. The Dutch firm estimates the cost of creating an initial colony of four inhabitants on Mars to be in the region of $6 billion, and $4 billion for each subsequent launch.
Although the selection process is now open, many questions remain still remain unanswered about the technical feasibility of acheiving the mission in less than a decade, although the team did confirm plans to use SpaceX hardware combined with Paragon life support systems.