The writer had the pleasure of interviewing Mina Mukhar, who is the Founding President of The Mars Initiative.
Digital Journal asked Mukhar to give a bit of his background, and how the initiative came to be.
30-year-old Mukhar currently lives in Dallas, Texas. He was born in Houston, Texas and raised out in the countryside of Richmond, Texas on a 7-acre estate on the outskirts of Houston, Texas.
, "As a child, Mina would climb out of his bedroom window to lay out on the roof to stare for hours into the deep dark star-filled sky and wonder if we [humanity] would ever find answers to questions of the unknown. Where did we come from? Are we alone? He always dreamed of the future and how tomorrow would be. He always lived in the future and could not wait for tomorrow to come and hoped he would live to see the day when humans could venture out into space and beyond and back again as casually as we jump on airplanes today."
Digital Journal asked Mukhar what gave him the idea to start The Mars Initiative.
He responded as follows: "In 2003, when I was pursuing my undergraduate degree at Southern Methodist University (SMU), Robert Zubrin came to speak to the student body (see the press release
for the event). His speech reminded me of my childhood dreams for human space exploration and I remember feeling comfortable knowing that humanity had a detailed plan for using existing technologies that could send humans to Mars within ten years. It was a brilliant speech with compelling science that of course I did not understand being an undergrad newbie, but nonetheless I was convinced that I'd see humans on Mars within 10 years so I really forgot about it."
"Eight years later, in 2011, Zubrin came back to Dallas and spoke at The UTA Planetarium in Arlington, Texas. Of course I was very excited to attend as I was expecting to hear about all the progress through the years and to get a status update for when my childhood dream would come true. Unfortunately, the lecture was a huge disappointment as my expectations from eight years ago were not at all met - not even close. In fact, it sounded like the same speech from eight years ago. This deeply saddened me. After the speech, during the Q&A session, I stood up to ask Zubrin a question:"
“Dr. Zubrin… Your plan sounds amazing. In fact, it is just as brilliant as it was eight years ago, but I must ask, what is the funding plan for such a mission?"
"I remember that moment as if it were yesterday... Zubrin was taken back for a moment, did not really have a response, and somewhat stumbled over his words. In short, he said a funding plan really doesn’t exist and that he was trying to convince Congress to act so they could fund it."
"This moment was even more devastating for me because I have a B.A in Political Science and a B.A. in Public Policy so the only thing I knew for certain was that if humanity were waiting to send humans to Mars, we could be waiting forever - especially in today’s economy. Since I also have a double masters degree in the areas of business, finance, accounting, accounting information systems, and content management systems, it was at that point where I felt that I had a duty and a sincere obligation to myself and to humanity at large to use my knowledge, that I feel so privileged to have, in an attempt to do something great to remedy this horrific situation – to live a life of true purpose - and to hopefully help to convert my dreams, everyone's dreams, and everyone's passion for space and space exploration into a true reality."
"As such, I asked Zubrin in an email, "What would you say if I decided to dedicate my life to the funding of making a human mission to Mars a reality?" And he responded with, “Go for it"."
"And that is why I started The Mars Initiative."
"Mid 2012, when Zubrin was asked if he would collaborate with TMI to help make this a reality, he said, “The Mars Society is supportive of your initiative and we are interested in collaborating once it has become more formalized.”
Digital Journal then asked what TMI hopes to achieve, should incoming donations be sufficient?
Mukhar responded, "I seek for TMI to be a primary source of funding for the first entity responsible for successfully launching the first human mission to Mars to develop the first human settlement on the planet Mars."
"The Mars Initiative aims to propel private spaceflight into the future by incentivizing spacecraft manufacturers, and other private enterprises to collaborate and focus on the delivery of a comprehensive human mission to Mars by offering that first entity a generous subsidy for reaching all stated objectives."
How will TMI get its funding?
"We have setup a public bank account, and when we publicly launch, we will be asking people to be "one in a million" by subscribing to a minimum of $1.33 per month. If we get 1 million subscribers at that lowest amount offered, the account would grow by $1 million per month (the .33 accounts for PayPal merchant fees) - an attractive sum of money to convince some organization to get to work on this project ASAP to ensure that humans expand into a new reality that will extend our civilization beyond Earth, and into the final frontier of space, Mars, and beyond."
"This funding model will only work if people show their passion by becoming a subscriber. We tried to make it affordable so anyone with this passion can contribute — the power of large numbers will go a long way."
"And remember, all donations accumulate untouched until that successful launch."
"TMI operates on 100% volunteer passion; nobody at TMI is paid and all costs are kept to an absolute minimum. We will all be working hard to push this funding message around the globe."
A road map for The Mars Initiative's plans to see humans on Mars for exploration and human settlement can be read here
Digital Journal asked how many people are currently involved in the initiative:
Mukhar advised that the complete leadership team consists of 18 persons, whose bios can be read here
and gave the following statistics:
To date, TMI has grown organically, through word of mouth without any formal outreach or fundraising campaign.
So far this has led to 6,526 "Registered Space Advocates" and 41 volunteers applying to participate in this epic journey.
On the social media side of things, TMI's Facebook
page has 316 followers, Twitter
has 171, Google+
has 826, LinkedIn
has 121 and YouTube
has 12 followers.
Total money collected to date: $1,727.10. The Mars Initiative holds a strong value of transparency in everything they do. As such, TMI have made a commitment to publishing the organization’s monthly bank statements (all but the last 4 digits of the account number has been redacted for security). To see all bank statements, click here
Anyone interested in getting involved with The Mars Initiative can do one, or more, of the following:
- as a Space Advocate - to stay informed of critical required actions.
- become "one in a million" - Donate for as low as $1.33.
Rules for the Public Fund:
1. All Donations go directly into a public fund untouched until mission launch.
2. Money goes to 1st entity that successfully launches a human mission to Mars to develop a human settlement.
3. One Million Subscribers would make the account grow by $1 million per month, at min.
4. An attractive sum of money to convince some organization to develop this project ASAP.
3.) Apply for a TMI Leadership Position
- see our Open Leadership Positions.
4.) Become a Volunteer
- contribute your time for a minimum of 1 hour per week.
About being a TMI Volunteer
• Nobody at TMI is paid.
• Do what you like and what you are skilled at doing.
• Volunteers are motivated by their passion for space and space exploration.
At Minimum: Complete #1 and #2 Above. TMI's continued success depends on it....
Your reward is the opportunity to participate in one of the most extraordinary events in human history!
Feel the satisfaction of knowing that you were one in a million who helped bring everyone's dream come true!
Any questions for Mina Mukhar? Please feel free to drop a note in the comment section below.