By Jessica Dean
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Would you take a mission to Mars? Apparently hundreds of thousands of people would. They’re signing up with a company that’s promising a few lucky finalists a one-way trip to the red planet.
It’s been more than 40 years since human beings first stepped on the moon. People like Theresa Tauscher of Downingtown aren’t satisfied with that itinerary. They want to book a trip to Mars.
“That’s my goal, first woman on Mars,” Tauscher said.
She was one of 200,000 applicants for a one-way ticket to Mars through a non-profit from the Netherlands called Mars One.
The ambitious plan goes way beyond NASA’s Mars Rover. Mars One wants a permanent human settlement. A company animation shows robots setting up the inflatable pods where 24 people will live. The first four astronauts will travel for 9 months, more than 34 million miles, then move in. For life. Approximate arrival date: 2025.
Theresa applied online, including audition video, and became one of more than a thousand finalists. If chosen for the mission, she faces eight years of training.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘Oh, one way! You’re going to die there! It’s terrible!'” she said. “But I look at it as it will be essentially a scientific renaissance.”
Another finalist, physicist Charles Swanson of Princeton, studies plasma gases here on earth, but “for as long as I remember, I’ve wanted to go to space. I want there to be people on Mars, and I think I’m a good choice.”
Those quick trips to the moon look like a bargain compared to a Mars ticket. Mars One estimates it needs $6 billion.
Mars One medical director Norbert Kraft said, “Some people think that living on Mars, settling on Mars, is science fiction. The technology is currently here, so we will bring them to Mars.”
Mars One is taking donations, selling mugs and t-shirts, and planning a reality TV show.
“We want to televise every piece of it, which means how they train for it,” said Kraft.
Franklin Institute chief astronomer Derrick Pitts points out 10 years away is “not far at all.” He says not even NASA thinks it can put people on Mars by 2025.
“I think it’s great they have this wonderful idea and framework of a plan, but I’m sure there will be roadblocks that pop up along the way that will delay their progress,” said Pitts.
NASA says it might send astronauts to Mars after 2030 but insists on bringing them back. Unlike the moon astronauts, success for the Mars One team means never coming home. But Theresa Tauscher and Charles Swanson say the sacrifice would be worth it.
“I don’t think fear stops people from doing important things in general,” Swanson said.
Those selected are expected to begin training next year.
WEB EXTRA: Mission To Mars Medical Director
WEB EXTRA: Mission To Mars Princeton Candidate
WEB EXTRA: Mission To Mars Downingtown Candidate
For more information, visit: www.Mars-One.com