In A Nutshell
Right now, private companies are developing plans to land humans on Mars in the 2020s, and the race is on to find the first person in history to set foot on the Red Planet. As a way of raising funds for their planned 2023 mission, Dutch company Mars One is already planning to sell the global TV rights—with the hook that members of the public would get to vote for their favorite astronaut to be first on the Martian surface.
The Whole Bushel
Reality TV has given us lots of things: Big Brother, Jersey Shore, Snooki . . . okay, so it hasn’t really given us anything much. But in the very near future, it might well give us one of the most iconic people who will ever live: the first human being on Mars.
Meet Bas Lansdorp, an eccentric Dutch entrepreneur and possibly a part-time genius. His Mars One project is an ambitious effort to land people on Mars by 2023, with a backup party arriving in 2025. It’s currently estimated that the cost of this insane undertaking will be around $6 billion—a price Lansdorp hopes to make up by selling the reality TV rights to the mission.
His plan is fairly straightforward and seems to be working. Ordinary people will apply as they would with any TV talent show. Meanwhile, networks will cough up the cash to get the project underway, having been promised the biggest broadcast event in history. Aside from monitoring the crew 24/7, viewers will be able to phone in and vote for their favorite astronaut to become the first human being on the Martian surface. Forget Neil Armstrong, the next deep-space legend may well be a Kardashian.
Understandably, NASA is skeptical of the plan and thinks there’s a good chance the astronauts will become sick, go mad, or even die. There’s also no way for them to get home at this point, so they might well be stuck there for the rest of their lives. But Lansdorp’s recent call for applications received 200,000 replies—suggesting this madman may be well on his way to making his demented vision a demented reality.