I’m sure that everyone has noticed that the idea of a Mars colony is heating up. What they may not realize is exactly how much.
This whole recent bit started in April 2013 when the Dutch nonprofit foundation Mars One announced its intention of establishing a human settlement on Mars by 2024. In response, they received over 200,000 applications for what, at the moment, appears to be a one way trip.
How will Mars One pull this off?
For starters, they’ve selected 1,058 potential candidates (from the 200,000 applications) and they will have these candidates compete for 40 final mission slots – on reality TV. Either this is a genius way to raise the $6 billion needed for the mission or an approach that really cheeses the whole thing up beyond repair. I’m not entirely sure which way I fall on the matter yet. Need more info.
One group, however, is taking the matter very seriously and is decidedly against the endeavor. The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (GAIAE), the body of Muslim clerics that rules on what the Muslim faithful should and should not do, issued a full fatwa that put the hammer down on any Muslim mission hopefuls.
In the thinking of the GAIAE, "such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam." They continued, "There is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death."
While, in reality, the GAIAE has as much authority over devout Muslims as say a priest’s interpretation of scripture would have with a member of his congregation, this news probably didn’t sit well with the 500 or so applicants for the mission that came from Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations.
There are some practical things to consider for the ruling. In addition to there being ‘no righteous’ reason for the trip and subjecting oneself to the risk of death some 35 million miles from Earth, there is the idea of religious observance. For instance, what would the rules be for Muslims on Mars during prayers? I suppose that it might suffice to face Earth to face Mecca, but not sure how that would play out in the strictest sense of the observance.
Back on the candidates though…from 107 countries and myriad backgrounds and ages (oldest successful candidate is 81) they are being prepared for the next phase of selection which will include simulations and batteries of tests that sort them out for mental, physical, and emotional fitness on the previously mentioned live reality television show.
Once selected, the candidates will go through some 8 years of training to make sure they are ready for the main event. Ostensibly, there will be missions to Mars ahead of the big colonization effort because Mars One’s response to the GAIAE was:
“It may seem extremely dangerous to send humans to Mars today, but the humans will be preceded by at least eight cargo missions. Robotic unmanned vehicles will prepare the habitable settlement. Water and a breathable atmosphere will be produced inside the habitat and the settlement will be operational for two years, even before the first crew leaves Earth. Each of the cargo missions will land in a system very similar to the human landing capsule. An impressive track record of the landing technology will be established before risking human lives.”
What are your thoughts? Have any of you signed up for, or better yet, should we be looking for you on the reality show as you compete for one of the final mission slots?