The non-profit organisation Mars One appeared on the radar a couple of years ago, aiming to be the first corporate-funded company to send people on a one-way trip to Mars – and colonise it.
Thousands of people across the world have applied for a place on the shortlist, including some South Africans, but an astronaut from Nasa has become the latest person to bring the mission into question.
Andy Thomas, the first Australian Nasa astronaut, has a particular issue with the fact that Mars One’s mission is a one-way trip, never to return to earth.
“I don’t think it’s morally defensible to send crews one way to Mars. We can bring them home. We don’t know what the long-term health impacts of living on Mars are and I suspect they are quite serious,” he said during a panel discussion at Brisbane’s World Science Festival.
Thomas also wondered how Mars One would be able to lift off to the red planet under the budget conditions it specified, which he says is way too low.
“They claim they can launch a crew to Mars in the mid to late 2020s and do it for less than $9 billion. It (the cost estimate) is so low as to be laughable. We don’t know how to build a habitat that can sustain a crew for an outbound mission and on Mars indefinitely.”
While Thomas questions the effectiveness of Mars One, he is however, of the opinion that travelling to Mars is important to the human race.
“I think Mars is the Holy Grail of human exploration. I think in the next century people will look back on this century the way we look back on the time of Magellan and Columbus.”
It does resonate with the sentiment that we are too old to explore the earth, and too young to explore space.[Via – Sydney Morning Herald, image – Nasa]