Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

No return ticket

There is something in the human spirit that impels us to explore, and sooner or later that element of our character will get us to Mars.

It's a daring idea, and to many people a ridiculous one: a Dutch company wants to recruit people for one-way trips to Mars, starting in 2023; there is no plan to get anyone home again. The effort is, implausibly, to be financed via a television "reality" show.

And yet almost 80,000 people have now paid as much as $75 (Dh275) and sent in applications, complete with one-minute videos, explaining why they should be chosen for this voyage of no return.

They are not, we're sure, all crazy: innate in human nature is the urge to go see what's on the other side of the mountain. True, the challenges have become more daunting; a camel train or a caravel no longer suffices. Even the bar to entry is being raised. What kind of video application might Columbus have made for his epic voyages?

Reality TV producers are not the only ones focused on Mars. The logical next goal for space travel glitters redly through our telescopes, and the idea seems to be gaining traction. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, has just published a new book advocating a manned (round-trip) Mars mission. The US space agency Nasa has been told to plan for a manned landing in the 2030s. Sooner or later, with or without reality television, humankind will get to Mars - and, with luck, home again.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Lionel Richie performed many of his hits from the 1970s and 1980s at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Jaime Puebla / The National

Lionel Richie dishes out the hits to Dubai crowd

At his Dubai concert on Thursday, Richie greeted the audience with “Yalla habibi” – a statement of intent as his energy rarely let up.

Tyrese reunited with Fazza

Tyrese today posted on his social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) his pleasure at being reunited with the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

 Falconry is an activity where they demonstrate how falcons catch prey while flying at a speed of almost 360 kilometres per hour. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

In pictures: Adventure in the desert at Abu Dhabi's Qasr Al Sarab

Mohammad Ashfaq, an adventure guide at the Qasr Al Sarab resort, Abu Dhabi, showcases a day in his working life.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National