Who needs to wait for spaceships? The mission to Mars starts right now.
Every child has dreamed of it: to set off in a grand adventure clad in a sleek spacesuit, holding a helmet, climbing up the stairs of an edgy rocketship a la Neil Armstrong, in hopes to unravel the mysteries of the universe. Cosmic travel has always been in the curious’ ultimate bucket-list, and for some, a yearning that can never be outgrown. After all, man aspires to reach past the precincts of Earth’s walls, for the neighbouring planets may show promise of life. And the nearest, potentially liveable planet is just a jump away, one that’s of a lightyear kind.
Mars have tickled the astronomer’s curiosity ever since it was discovered. Man has made successful attempts on the moon, but never on the Red Planet itself. Up in the sky, it occasionally peeks in the form of a small dot, inviting one into its atmosphere. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin has already made a prediction: men will be on Mars by 2035. NASA has already pinned a schedule on their calendar, but for those who couldn’t wait, there’s a quick alternative—one that costs $6,800 per head. In a three-day expedition, Ares Station opens its doors to immerse the cosmic wanderers into Martian terrain, complete with visions of red and the planet’s indescribably harsh setting. The actual “soil” is set inside a cavern in Cantabria, Spain, a place so rugged and isolated, it mimics the planet’s setting. But before one dive into the Martian camp, they need to undergo a three-week program, one that simulates the challenges of an astronaut’s true life: spacewalking, floating, problem-solving and psychological conditioning.
It’s not exactly a holiday. In contrast to the Earth’s congenial atmosphere, the red planet welcomes guests with strong winds, high glares of solar radiation, and creeping low temperatures. It is a test of man’s endurance, a challenge of man’s wit. Inside the Cantabrian caves, where only 10 participants are picked for each expedition, comfort is rare. But the 164-feet Ares Station is without scientific support, for the entire area is decked with laboratories, life capsules, astronaut suits, and all the other amenities a spaceman requires when away from his own planet.
The limited-edition experience comes with customized food supplies, survival kits, AI-enhanced robots, leisure areas, and even a gym. The adventure begins on November, with 4 expeditions slated for the passing participants. There might not be an actual rocket ship to take flight, but everything is created closest to Mars, and for the space dreamers, this might just be the next best thing. www.astrolandagency.com ◼
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© This article was first published online in Sept 2019 – World Travel Magazine.