“To lead to the beginnings of the first civilization on another planet. That is my legacy.”
Would you be willing to leave everything and everyone familiar behind—including the very planet you and every other human in history has ever known as home—never to return again? The Guardian’s new short documentary “If I Die on Mars” follows three of the 660 volunteers still in the running to do just that on Mars One’s mission to colonize the Red Planet.
Ryan, a physics student from the UK believes it’s all about leaving a legacy. “A lot of people do that by, say, having a child and having a family,” he says. “For me, this would be my legacy. To try and find out if there’s life on Mars, to inspire a new generation, to lead to the beginnings of the first civilization on another planet. That is my legacy.”
In 2012, more than 200,000 people applied for a spot on the ambitious mission slated for 2024. Beginning that year, the non-profit will send groups of four people to Mars every two years, slowly but surely building a colony. The amateur astronauts will reside in space capsules and inflatable habitats. They will extract water from the soil and farm the majority of their food. If selected, the explorers would never come back to Earth, and likely die sooner rather than later.
Dina, an Iraqi woman who immigrated to the US never to return again, speaks to her independence. “Going back is not an option—never. I don’t feel like I need a family to be able to survive and exist,” she says.
Jeremias, a doctor from Mozambique, believes it’s time for a clean slate—for humanity. “I think this world is not a good place to live anymore,” he says. “We have so many diseases, we have so many armed conflicts, we have natural disasters, we have inequities, we have so many problems that I believe it’s not possible to solve. I would like to see a better world compared to this one and I think a good way to solve those problems is to start from the beginning.”
A new wave of finalists will be announced on February 16. Later this year, a series of reality shows about the Mars One mission, which will allow viewers to select the final colonist as well as follow the amateur astronauts as they prepare for and go on their mission will premiere.