When Will Humans Live on Mars?

2014, Science  -  26 min Leave a Comment
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Up until very recently, space travel and exploration has been an activity that only government-funded mega-ventures have been capable of taking part in - organizations like NASA. Advancements in aeronautics and space engineering have opened the door for private companies to enter this arena, and VICE spinoff Motherboard's film When Will Humans Live on Mars? profiles some of the leading companies working to make space more accessible.

As has often been the case throughout history, the drive to make a buck is the primary intent of what the filmmakers coin "Space 2.0." The first company they look to is a Netherlands-based non-profit organization called Mars One, whose objective is to be the first private company to colonize mars. Founded in 2011, they have already begun taking applications (over 200,000 individuals applied) for the settler positions that must be comfortable with the idea they will be heading to Mars for the rest of their lives - Mars One has no intention of shuttling anyone back to Earth. As with most startup companies, the biggest hurdle for the business was financing what is a wildly expensive business objective - space travel.

CEO and co-founder Bas Lansdorp was unsure of how to approach this problem at first, but after discovering that the Olympic games generated more than $1 billion a day in revenue, it dawned on him that the world's eyeballs being universally directed towards a grand spectacle is capable of generating tremendous revenue. So, Mars One will also be a reality television show that follows those space pioneers chosen in their preparation for, journey to, and struggle to colonize the red planet.

The film then turns to space tourism and Spaceport America, a private space flight facility located in a remote desert region of Jornada Del Muerto, New Mexico. Private space flight leaders Virgin Galactic and Space X are existing tenants, amongst a number of other private companies, of a facility poised to be one of many destinations worldwide that will act as gateways for private space travel much like airports do for plane travel.

NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California is next up, where many of the private companies seeking to exploit the industrial resources of space are hatching plans on how to go about doing so. Moon Express is one example, where they hope to be the first company to mine the surface of the moon.