Space travel has always been tainted with a few big, unavoidable problems for me. The first is that I spent all three years of my university career occasionally learning what Foucault thinks about reality television, rather than anything vaguely scientific that would teach me how to launch myself through earth's atmosphere without dying immediately. The second is that everything is just so staggeringly, unfathomably far away. The half hour commute to work is bad enough; three days to get to a pretty nondescript floating hunk of rock just seems pointless and like a massive waste of time that could be spent not crowded up in a little shuttle hurtling through the sky.
Although, I suppose if there was an exciting prospect at the end of the journey I wouldn't mind so much. Like a new, ready-made home for me to spend the rest of my years, for example. Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp is going to be furnishing those exact dreams with his Mars One project, which aims to build a liveable settlement on Mars, before sending four humans to live there for the rest of their lives in 2023, followed by more batches of people as the years go on, living there for the REST of their lives.
Besides that minor detail, his project is remarkable in that it aims to raise the majority of its funding through creating the biggest media spectacle the world has ever known – covering every stage of the project and allowing viewers to vote on who gets to take the trip – rather than relying on governments and having to deal with any kind of political interference. I met Bas for a drink to talk about his plans.