Ready for a one-way trip to Mars?

A Dutch company wants to send four people, selected via reality-show-style elimination, on a permanent trip to the Red Planet in 2022.

Katja Zanella-Kux/OeWF/Reuters
A scientist participates in a month-long Mars field simulation in the northern Sahara near Erfoud in Morocco, February 2013. Directed by a Mission Support Center in Austria, the small field crew conducted experiments to prepare for future human Mars missions.

Humans may not have landed on Mars just yet, but that isn’t stopping a Dutch company from devising a plan to send four people to the Red Planet within the next 10 years. The initiative, dubbed Mars One, aims to send a small group of people to Mars in 2022 and eventually establish a permanent colony on the planet.

"Everything we need to go to Mars exists,” said Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp. “We have the rockets to send people to Mars, the equipment to land on Mars, the robotics to prepare the settlement for humans ? so, for a one-way mission, all the technology exists.”

But that’s the caveat: The four astronauts chosen for the trip will be stuck on Mars — forever.  And despite Mars One’s thorough planning, there are a number of challenges that may prevent the mission from ever taking place. The biggest road block could be the mission’s $6 billion price tag. However, Lansdorp is confident that Mars One will be able to fund the project by selling the broadcast rights for the mission and subsequent experiences living on the planet.

Those broadcast rights will also play a part in helping to select the people who will be sent to Mars. Lansdorp said the company will hold a national selection process akin to a reality show. Lansdorp is expecting at least 1 million applications from people around the world, ABC News reports

In addition to the cost, several other potential problems could inhibit the mission to Mars.    

"To send people there with life support, with food, with air, with all the other things that they'll need ? books, entertainment, means of communication and means of providing for their own resources for a long stay on Mars — that's even more challenging,” said Adam Baker, senior lecturer in space engineering at Kingston University in London. “The sheer size of the rockets you'd need to do this would be absolutely colossal.”

However, Mars One is up to the challenge. The company hopes to launch a rocket in 2022 and land on Mars in 2023. ABC News reports that the initial group would work on constructing a colony on Mars, while additional team members would continue to land on the planet every two years. 

Email David Mielach or follow him @D_M89. Follow us @bndarticlesFacebook or Google+.

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