Mars One, the organization attempting a Martian colonization mission in 2025, has always said it would fund its project partly through a TV show about the training and selection of its citizen astronauts. Now, it's found a partner for that show: a subsidiary of Endemol, the entertainment company best known for Big Brother. UK-based production house DSP focuses on documentaries and dramas, including Touching the Void, a critically acclaimed 2003 film about climbers Joe Simpson and Simon Yates' nearly fatal attempt to climb the Siula Grande in Peru. It's also produced TV specials about space tourism and the end of the Space Shuttle program. With Mars One, it will film what the companies say will be a series broadcast "around the world."
Taking Mars One's mission at face value is, well, a giant leap. Like any other crewed Mars mission, it has huge hurdles to cross, and it has relatively little time in which to do so. Its entertainment deals will also have to provide a great deal of funding to match something like SpaceX, let alone NASA, which is currently planning its own trip to Mars in the 2030s. We're not sure how much closer, if any, this partnership puts Mars One towards its goal. But it's managed to secure a tentative deal for an uncrewed 2018 test flight with Lockheed Martin and SSTL, and given the low risks involved in every stage up to the actual flight, it's been generally welcomed as a way to promote space exploration.
After receiving 200,000 applications in an open call for astronauts, Mars One narrowed the pool to around 1,000 late last year, and 705 people are currently in the running. Under DSP's cameras, they'll take part in an "elite training program run by a panel comprised of pre-eminent scientists, adventurers and astronauts," designed to evaluate their mastery of vital technical skills as well as physical and mental fitness. Previously, Mars One has said that audiences may play a role in the selection. The first episodes of the show are expected in early 2015, but there's not much detail beyond that, although more is supposed to be forthcoming. The actual selection process, according to Mars One's roadmap, will end with around six teams of four people being picked for training, and more people will be picked every year, all of them hoping to make a trip to Mars and never come back.