“We expected the numbers to rise once the election process got underway, but since Ted Cruz and Rand Paul declared their candidacies we’ve been overwhelmed,” said Buzz Alldrone, CEO of Off-Planet Tours, the business consortium that is behind the mission.
Such is the demand from Americans who want to leave the planet that the consortium has brought forward the launch date to November 2016, when the election takes place. “Our crew and passengers will be very motivated to leave by then,” said Alldrone.
But the decision has sparked heavy criticism. A rival mission backed by entrepreneur Elon Musk will put humans on Mars by 2026, and is now recruiting and training the crew.
Alldrone acknowledged that his extremely aggressive timetable for colonizing the Red Planet is “ambitious” but the run up to the Presidential election is a window of opportunity for the first private sector mission to another planet. Also, if Donald Trump announces his candidacy the number of applicants to vacate Earth is expected to turn into a torrent. “And we have a Plan B. We will drop them off on the Moon if we can’t make it to Mars,” he said.
Still, demand is expected to decline dramatically after the new President is elected. But Alldrone is unfazed. “We’ve a long-term plan to transport the US Congress to Neptune that we believe will gain huge support.”