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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bas Lansdorp of Mars

  I never saw the movie, John Carter, but I heard it was a movie, with groundbreaking special effects, that didn’t make enough money to cover the enormous expense.That was what I was worried about when I read about MarsOne, a project by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, which plans to monetize the colonization of Mars by turning the mission into something resembling a Reality Show. Generous estimates of the show being as widely-viewed as the Olympics place the profit margin at just barely under the estimated cost of the mission, unless of course we have multiple seasons consecutively, which doesn’t seem to be the plan, unless I’m mistaken. At the moment, however, the company is relying on sponsors to get the show up and running (initially detailing astronaut selection and training for the mission), so it’s entirely possible that I’ll be proven wrong. I hope I’ll be proven wrong. (my excitement over the announcement that this was not a hoax waned when I read this).

  The idea is a valid thing for explorers to do.  The first Europeans to reach the Americas regaled anyone who was listening with tales of their exciting adventures in the new world.  They also pressured nobles into funding their expeditions.  Television and advertising are both susceptible to this kind of pressure, and it is possible that the company will put the research time at a premium, so that scientists and universities will have to shell out money for their experiments to be conducted, or perhaps put on the air.  Not quite a sugar plantation, for profit-potential, but it’s the best we can do until space is more fully-colonized.

  It reminds me of 2005, when I was very excited about Bigelow Aerospace’s $50 million America’s Space Prize (article here), which nobody won, after which I had the distinct impression that Bigelow had failed, to make room for SpaceX.  They actually did accomplish quite a bit, getting two prototypes into orbit, and, even early-on, I was looking at how Robert Bigelow made his money, and thinking intensely about the Space Hotel he’s no longer doing press about (at least, not recently, on what I could find in a Google search).  So, here’s my thoughts on the MarsOne mission:  it may not be a hoax, right now, but will the reality show come to pass, or will it turn into a potential Mars mission that government space agencies eventually get involved in?  I’m sure no one thinks so, yet, but there’s no way to be sure what’ll happen by 2023.  Here’s hoping we really do get to Mars that soon. 

1 comment:

  1. Hope we do get to Mars by then. The reality show idea is a little dorky, in my opinion. But otherwise I like your thoughts.