Applicants sought for one-way flight to MarsTuesday 23 April 2013 11.20
A Dutch company has begun looking for volunteer astronauts to fly and live on Mars with no prospect of returning to earth.
At a press conference in New York City, the company's CEO Bas Lansdorp announced an open call for anyone to apply for the flight.
The mission will be one-way only, since there currently is no technology that would enable a return trip from Mars to Earth.
"Today, the Mars One foundation starts the search for Mars inhabitants. The search for people from all nations who want to settle on Mars," he said.
"Mars One is a non profit organisation that is working on landing the first crew on Mars in 2023 and another crew every two years after that."
The goal is to establish a permanent human colony, he said.
Applicants must be between 18-40 years of age and in good physical condition. There are no other pre-requisites.
Take off, landing and various parts of the mission will be streamed on the internet, and viewed by four billion people according to Mr Lansdorf's estimate.
Whether or not video transmission will be live or edited has yet to be determined.
Mars One plans to train the team for seven years before the flight.
The flight to the red planet will take seven months.
Each flight will carry two males and two females, but Mr Lansdorp said Mars One is not requiring anyone to take fertility tests.
Whether or not members of the team choose to reproduce will be up to them.
"These people will be living on Mars in a very small environment with just four people. It will be a dangerous environment and any prospective parent should always ask themselves is this the right time and place for me to have children.
"These are responsible people that we are sending to Mars. So they will come to the conclusion that this is not the right place to have children especially in those first years.
"But maybe when there is 20 or 30 people on Mars, that could become a possibility."
The biggest challenge Mr Lansdorp foresees is gathering and maintaining funding for the mission.
When they arrive on Mars, Mr Lansdorp explained that there will be a habitable settlement already there.
The living quarters will be prepared by robotic missions that go to the red planet ahead of the astronauts.
The living quarters will have exercise equipment and will be wired so the astronauts can communicate with family members on Earth via internet and a technology similar to Skype - albeit with delays.
They will also have internet and television access.
Mars One will provide financial support to the astronauts' families back on Earth.
The organisation said it has already received inquiries from 10,000 prospective applicants in more than 100 countries.
Asked if he thinks it is ethical to send people on a one-way journey to Mars, Mr Lansdorp called the mission "idealistic" and "something that can truly change the Earth".
"Any big step that you take will always mean that there is risk. This mission will not be different.
"When you send humans to Mars there will be risks. But we will select the people and we will tell those people the risks and they will have to weigh the risks," he said.