By Dhwani Patel
The recent hit movie The Martian directed by Ridley Scott, throws audiences into a whole new world of Martian life.
Mark Watney (Matt Damon), a botanist and an astronaut, is stranded on Mars and living on ration meals every day until his team arrives to rescue him. Today, the mission to send humans to Mars in hopes of establishing a permanent colony is already under progress.
Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders cofounded the Mars One Program in 2011 that would send four people to Mars by 2024. Four volunteer astronauts were chosen through the Astronaut Selection Plan (ASP) that was launched in April 2013 at a press conference in New York and Shanghai. Six teams of four people are chosen after consecutive video and online applications as well as video and in person interviews.
However, the selection process does not stop there. The ASP program is scheduled to renew each year to maintain the training pool. Chosen applicants will then be entered into full-time training in 2017 that is expected to continue for nine years, after which, the first human flight to Mars will be expected to launch in 2026.
Before sending the first Mars settlers, a rover and a trailer will be sent to Mars in 2022 to find an optimal settlement that is near the equator in order to exploit maximal solar power production, inhabit a flat terrain for construction purposes, and find a place where soil is rich in water. The living units and the life support will then be sent with a second rover in 2024.
It is expected by 2025 that all units will have landed on Mars. Before having the astronauts land, the rover will have all the units set up the outpost. Finally in 2026, the first crew of Mars settlers will be set to launch into an approximately eight month journey to Mars.
In prospect of expanding the Mars settlement initiative, the second crew will be set to launch in 2028, and additional crews will be sent every two years to colonize Mars permanently. What the astronauts’ futures hold will remain a mystery until the calendar strikes 2026.
Despite the challenges of the mission, the adventures waiting ahead for these volunteers are bound to be one of mankind’s pinnacles in world history.