The times they are a-changin’. A few short decades ago, trekking to the South Pole or climbing Mount Everest was the pinnacle of extreme exploration. Within the next few years, space tourism could become a realistic possibility, even for average (if well-heeled) travelers. But, TripAdvisor is already thinking bigger thanks to a new, one-of-a-kind experience that allows travelers to “live” on Mars.
With the help of the interplanetary Astroland Agency, the travel giant recently announced the first-of-its-kind Experience Life on Mars expedition. Participants will travel to northern Spain where they’ll head deep underground to experience life on the Red Planet for a full three days. The entire experience lasts 30 days. The first three weeks involve a comprehensive training program followed by three days of intense psychological and physical training at the Astroland facilities. It all culminates with three days of complete seclusion inside the cave — a real-world simulation of life on the red planet.
The initial training program will be conducted remotely. Participants will work directly with world-class psychologists and aerospace experts to get up to speed on what to expect while underground. The team includes a doctor of Neuropsychology and an astronaut instructor from the European Space Agency. Would-be astronauts will then learn to conduct spacewalks through hands-on training in caving, natural buoyancy tests, and emergency action plans in the event things go very, very wrong.
The final phase takes place inside a mile-long cave in Arredondo, Spain, where the purpose-built Ares Station will simulate life on Mars. The team of “Astrolanders” will spend a full three days there, cut off from the outside world and performing regular research missions in and outside the station. All essential gear — specially designed suits, legit scientific equipment, technical clothing, life capsules, and space food — will be provided.
The experience is, of course, bucket-list-worthy in its own right. But, the mission goal is to explore the effects of seclusion on the human body and the colony as a whole. For this reason, participants need to apply for their expedition spot and pass numerous mental and physical tests before they’re accepted.
The next five missions take place on select dates in September, October, and November. Pricing for the ultra-exclusive experience starts at $6,800 (flights not included). Unless you’re planning an actual Mars visit in your lifetime, that seems downright reasonable for the opportunity to experience living on another planet.
If only a real space visit will do, you’re in luck: The International Space Station might open its doors to tourists as early as next year.
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