A long-shot attempt by a private company to send a (televised) manned mission to Mars has signed up its first sponsors.
The mission would represent the first attempt to permanently settle humans on another planet.
The company wants to launch its first unmanned mission in 2016, followed by three other robotic pioneers by 2020. These four missions would build a habitable camp on the planet, which would then be inhabited by four astronauts from 2023.
Obviously the plan is an ambitious one - and officials from the company say they still need to fund conceptual designs from various aerospace suppliers.
The sponsorship money from Byte Internet ,Dutch lawfirm VBC Notarissen, onsulting company MeetIn, the New-Energy.tv website and Dejan SEO will be used to fund those studies.
Mars One said:
The potential benefits for sponsors and investors are clear, but the challenge for Mars One lies in convincing potential sponsors and investors that our plan really is feasible. This will be achieved by completing technical milestones, starting with conceptual design studies by our candidate suppliers. Every technical milestone will further increase the feasibility of the Mars mission and will be used to generate additional media exposure.
Eventually Mars One says it will fund the $6bn mission with a series of reality TV shows in which the astronauts will be selected, sent to Mars and eventually have their adventures broadcast back on Earth.
The company is not planning to return the astronauts, meaning any trip will come with a one-way ticket.
"Receipt of initial sponsorship marks the next step to humans setting foot on Mars," the Mars One founderBas Lansdorp said in a statement.
"A little more than a year ago we embarked down this path, calling upon industry experts to share in our bold dream. Today, we have moved from a technical plan into the first stage of funding, giving our dream a foundation in reality."