A 36-year-old Saudi man has signed up for the one-way trip to the red planet, where there is no water or air. Abdullah Al-Zahrani hopes to be selected for the flight scheduled for 2023 and live in a space colony for the rest of his life.
The mission, organized through the Dutch-based venture Mars One project, stopped receiving applications earlier this week following a 5-month registration period.
Al-Zahrani is among over 165,000 space enthusiasts who have signed up to join the Mars One project. The aspiring “Martians” come from over 140 countries, mostly from the US, China, Brazil, India, Russia, Britain, Mexico, Canada, Spain and the Philippines.
In his public registration video posted in English on the Mars One project, Al-Zahrani said that bringing about change for humanity is one of the goals he has always wanted to achieve, citing his experience as an ex-military pilot and the fact that he has been a medical student since 2008. His interest in living on Mars is also driven by his interest in technology and aeronautical engineering, he said in the video.
The Mars One project will choose only 40 candidates, who will go through specialized training for over eight years, including medical and technical skills for survival purposes. Only four of them will be sent to Mars in 2023 on a one-way trip, with more scheduled for future trips. Al-Zahrani has called on his audience to vote for him to make it through to the national and international selection process, in which the applicants show evidence of their suitability to live on Mars.
There is no turning back once the selected candidates step into the rocket and there is no return journey no matter what happens, said Bas Lansdrop, a Dutch entrepreneur who dreamed up the scheme last year after viewing the income stream of the London Olympics.
Al-Zahrani’s dream of landing on Mars was received with awe and excitement by Saudis on Twitter, who created a special hashtag to support him. The active hashtag, created one day ago, receives over 30 tweets a minute on average, a figure that shows the growing public interest in his bid for setting foot on Mars.
Abdullah Algaissi tweeted: “There is so much to discover about the universe. I not only hope that he goes to Mars but comes back with much more knowledge about it.”
The Mars One mission plan consists of cargo missions and unmanned preparation of a habitable settlement in 2021, followed by human landings beginning in 2023, which Al-Zahrani dreams to achieve.
A demonstration mission, communication satellites, two rovers and several cargo missions will be sent to Mars in the coming years. These missions will set up the outpost where the human crew will live and work.
The mission design takes into account the expansion of the human colony, where a new crew will arrive every two years.