Group plans reality show to get people to Mars

Published: Sep. 7, 2012 at 6:10 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT
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(RNN) - As the Mars Curiosity rover makes its way across the Red Planet, a company close to home is solidifying its plan to launch a colonizing mission to Mars using the popularity of reality TV.

Dutch company Mars One announced last week it had gotten its first corporate sponsors to help fulfill its $6 billion objective - moving people from Earth to Mars to live permanently.

"We have moved from a technical plan into the first stage of funding, giving our dream a foundation in reality," said Bas Landsdorp, founder and president of Mars One.

The company isn't the first to propose a manned mission to Mars or its colonization, but the company's funding plan is certainly unique.

Mars One plans to film the mission to Mars and create a reality TV show to keep constant funding coming into the program and ensure its sustainability. The company estimates they can garner at least as much media attention as the Olympics, which took in more than $4 billion between 2009 and 2012 through broadcasting alone.

The company plans to film the selection of astronauts and their training in the Mars-like conditions of an undisclosed desert, an initial rover mission to find the best spot to build the Mars outpost, the launch and trip to Mars and down the line, the everyday lives of astronauts working to live on Martian land.

The company has said any "qualified" applicant from any nation will be able to apply for an astronaut position. It appears part of the reality TV concept will involve the elimination of potential astronauts through a public voting system.

The company said it will initially take on 40 astronauts, although only a fraction of those will make it out of the atmosphere. Mars One plans to send four people into Space during its initial launch, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 14, 2022. More teams will be sent up every two years.

"The Mars One concept takes [colonizing Mars] to another level by adding an element of global audience participation," said Mary Roach, author of the best-selling Packing for Mars.

Last week Mars One announced the company has gotten five European-based corporate sponsors. Funding from the companies will go towards conceptual design studies to perfect the mission.

"We consider landing humans on Mars an imperative mission for the future of human exploration," said Gruss van Woerkom, general director of Byte Internet.

The project was founded in 2011 and plans to have humans roving the Red Planet by 2023. According to the company's planned timeline, astronaut selection could begin as early as 2013. The first realty TV show broadcast is expected to center around the process.

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