One-way ticket to Mars, anyone? Three Singaporeans have signed up for this maiden voyage from which there is no return
By Cheryl Chia
For years, popular media has bombarded us with images of aliens invading the Earth. The reverse is about to occur.
Human beings will, for the first time ever, colonise another planet. For the intrepid voyagers on this mission, it will be a one way trip – there is no return.
Mars-One is a non-profit organisation that hopes to establish the first human settlement on Mars by 2023, with the guidance of advisors and prospective suppliers to create a viable place for humans to live.
Mars-One will fund the mission, from sponsorship to broadcasting rights of every aspect of this mission – astronaut selection, training in a Mars-like mock-up and eventually humanity’s first step on Mars.
These space settlers’ lives on the Red Planet will be filmed and broadcast. This is truly an unprecedented and historic initiative.
Singaporean Space Voyagers
More than 78,000 applicants from all over the world have registered to be one of the first human settlers on Mars. Out of the many thousands, at least three applicants are from our sunny red dot of Singapore.
Choo Peng Hong, a 39-year-old adventure course centre manager, Roy Chan, a 34-year-old polytechnic lecturer, and another man known only by his first name, Robinson, a 54-year-old man with grown-up children, are attempting to fly the Singapore flag on a new, uncharted frontier – Mars.
Roy says, on his decision to apply, “I feel it is the most awesome thing – on one hand to be able to serve mankind by being a pioneer in space exploration to the planet Mars, like how our early forefathers who came from all parts of the region to Singapore to develop the country, and on another hand to be able to realise my childhood dream of being an astronaut [and] having the experience of floating in zero-gravity environment.”
“Mars-One allows me the opportunity to fulfil these two purposes,” he says.
Most Coveted One-Way Trip
Dr Norbert Kraft, Mars-One Chief Medical Officer says, “Applicants we have received come from a very wide range of personalities, professions and ages. This is significant because what we are looking for is not restricted to a particular background.
“From Round 1, we will take forward the most committed creative, resilient and motivated applicants,” he explains.
The first round of selection ended in August and the selected candidates will undergo an intensive six to eight years of training to prepare themselves for the harsh living conditions in a simulated environment of Mars.
From their online profiles, it is apparent that both Choo Peng Hong and Roy Chan are fans of science-fiction, and have been interested in the concept of space travel, which prompted their application to the Mars-One initiative.
Roy speaks of his intentions should he be selected: “I want to foster goodwill by making an entirely new living environment where humans will live in harmony and peace without conflicts and desire in the form of greed.”
“Everybody will be invested in a common goal, which is the development of the planet Mars into an even more habitable and friendlier living environment for our future generations to come. I feel, that is my purpose in life, in tandem with my ambition,” he elaborates.
Should one of these three bold Singaporeans finally make it into space, it would also be a historic moment for Singapore.
“By being the first Singaporean astronaut, I hope to inspire more Singaporeans to become interested in space aeronautics and exploration as well,” says Roy.
We wish all three Singaporean astronauts-to-be well and hope that they will play a part in making history.
Visit www.mars-one.com for more information on the project.
FAQs for Living on Mars
Here are some burning questions about humanity’s possible future on the Red Planet, and the answers from Mars-One
Why Mars, of all places?
After Earth, Mars is the most habitable planet in our solar system. Its soil contains water and the temperature on its surface is manageable.
There is enough sunlight to use solar panels and its gravity is 38 per cent that of Earth’s, which is sufficient for the human body to adapt to in good time. It has an atmosphere, albeit a thin one, offering some shielding from radiation from the cosmos.
The only other celestial bodies close enough from Earth are our Moon and Venus. There are far fewer resources on the Moon than on Mars, and one Moon day lasts a whole Earth month. It also does not have an atmosphere to form a barrier against radiation or small meteoroids. Venus, among other things, is too hot at 400 degrees centigrade.
What will the participants do on Mars?
The settlers will spend their time exploring the Martian surface, doing experiments, construction work and farming.
This will be in addition to regular system operations including health and fitness evaluations, monitoring of all systems parameters and conferences with mission control.
Why not choose experienced astronauts?
Astronauts, as we have known them from the space-faring missions until now, are often pilots, medical doctors, science payload experts or engineers. For a crew that will permanently settle on Mars, the most important skill is their ability to function in a group.
The best individuals fulfilling such criteria can be found in all backgrounds. Of course, they need to be healthy and smart. Mars-One will train the astronauts for seven years: long enough to learn to solve any medical and mechanical problems and to grow their own food.
Why settle on Mars permanently? isn’t there a way back?
There is no way to go back. Going to Mars is a decision that you make for the rest of your life. The technology for a return mission does not exist.