Company's crazy idea for getting to Mars: Launch a reality TV show

Funding for space travel has been slashed so much in recent years that it could be decades before we actually set foot on a rock other than our own. But a new Dutch startup hopes to combine the world's love for reality TV and passion for space travel into a sure-fire hit that will get us to the Red Planet in about a decade: The Real World Mars. Or something like that.

Mars One has a plan to establish the first-ever Martian colony by 2023, and they'll fund it by making the mission, and the buildup to the trip, "the biggest media event ever."

The plan would call for an initial four astronauts to head to Mars on a one-way trip (they might could return to Earth someday), then send more teams in two-year cycles.

The only problem? It'll cost about $6 billion just to get those first four lucky contestants off the ground.

To fit the bill, Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp said they would sell marketing sponsorships and attempt to launch reality TV programming around everything from the selection process to the mission itself.

"To attract sponsors, we will create appealing media content around the selection of the astronauts, the training, unmanned missions and other topics," said via Salon. "This should convince sponsors and investors to participate with the promise of an even bigger exposure later: we expect that almost every person on Earth will witness the landing of the first astronauts on Mars."
An open casting call for potential astronauts starts this year, and the field will eventually be trimmed to 40 people for the launch of the show. Those who are chosen will have to go through about a decade of training—what, did you think they'd send an average Joe off the street into space? —and eventually the public will decide the final four with a voting system a la American Idol.

Sound off: Is this absolutely insane, or the big push we need to finally get us to Mars?

(Via Salon)