Mars One is a private spaceflight project led by Dutch entrepreneur, Bas Lansdorp, to establish a permanent human colony on Mars.
Announced in June 2012, the plan is to send a communication satellite and path finder lander to the planet by 2016 and, after several stages, land four humans on Mars for permanent settlement in 2023. A new set of four astronauts would then arrive every two years.
The project is endorsed by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft.
Mars One became a not for profit foundation (Stichting under Dutch law) in early October 2012.
A one way trip excluding the cost of maintaining four astronauts on Mars until they die is claimed to cost approximately 6 billion USD. For comparison, an “austere” manned Mars mission (including a temporary stay followed by a return of the astronauts) proposed by NASA in 2009 had a projected cost of 100 billion USD after an 18 year program.
As of May 2013, over 80,000 people have indicated interest to be explorers on the one-way trips to Mars. Initial screening of the applicant pool will begin before the end of 2013.
Mars One, the not-for-profit foundation, is the controlling stockholder of the for-profit Interplanetary Media Group. A global reality-TV media event is intended to provide most of the funds to finance the expedition. It should begin with the astronaut selection process (with some public participation) and continue on through the first years of living on Mars.
Is this really possible?
Mars One is not the first organization to ponder the idea of a manned mission to Mars.
|There have been many plans to do just this. And yet, none have come to fruition. Why should Mars One succeed?
There are several reasons, as described in some detail, below:
Mars One has developed a mission to establish a human settlement on Mars built entirely upon existing technology. While the integration of systems proven in prior missions does greatly improve the chance of success, it by no means eliminates the risk or challenge of such an incredible endeavor. Sending humans to Mars remains a phenomenal undertaking by all standards and, as such, presents very real risks and challenges.
United States President John F. Kennedy said in his famous Rice Moon speech “We choose to go to the Moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard”.
Mars One takes on the challenge of establishing a settlement on Mars with the same frame of mind, knowing all great endeavors, especially space exploration, incorporate risk of lost time, resources, … and sometimes lives. Venturing to Mars is no exception.
The challenge is to identify the risks in every step of the ten year Mission, from astronaut selection through training, from launch to living on Mars. Mars One has incorporated into its Mission plan a detailed risk analysis protocol, built by highly experienced individuals, some of them with experience at NASA and the ESA. Ever evolving, ever improving, Mars One is constantly working to reduce the risk of delay and failure at every level. For example, the Mars lander will be tested eight times prior to the landing of the first crew, using identical vehicles. As is standard in the aerospace industry, every component will be selected for its simplicity, durability, and capacity to be repaired using the facilities that are available to the astronauts on Mars.
An important aspect of risk management is for quality information to be shared between suppliers and made readily available to all parties. In the case of the Mars One Mission, this includes sponsors, investors, aerospace suppliers, and of course, the astronauts themselves. Because the Mission is ultimately funded and supported by the global audience, Mars One also desires for the general public to have a sense of what the risks are and how Mars One is working to mitigate them.
Mars One identifies two major risk categories: the loss of human life and cost overruns.
Human space exploration is dangerous at all levels. After more than sixty years of humans leaving the far Earth below, the risk of space flight is similar to that of climbing Mount Everest. Mars is an unforgiving environment where a small mistake or accident can result in large failure, injury, and death. Every component must work perfectly. Every system (and its backup) must function without fail or human life is at risk.
With advances in technology, shared experience between space agencies, what was once a one-shot endeavor becomes routine and space travel does become more viable.
Cost overruns are also not uncommon in large projects in any arena. The risk for cost overrun in the Mars One Mission is reduced by using existing technologies, and by the fact that about 66% of the cost is associated with launch and landing–both of which are well understood and proven variables.
The proposed Mars One budget includes a large safety margin to take into account significant mission failures as well as smaller but costly failures of components on Mars.
Mars One has developed a detailed risk analysis profile which guides both its internal technical development as well as the relationships it builds with its aerospace suppliers. This risk analysis profile will continue to evolve and improve over the years prior to the first humans walking on the planet Mars.
80,000 sign up for one-way mission to Mars
Just two weeks into the nineteen week application period, nearly eighty thousand people have applied to the Mars One astronaut selection program in the hope of becoming a Mars settler in 2023. [ by May 10th 2013 80,000 people have applied for journey that has no chance of returning to Earth ]
Mars One has received applications from over 120 countries. Most applications come from USA (17324), followed by China (10241), United Kingdom (3581), Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Argentina and India.
Bas Lansdorp, Mars One Co-Founder and CEO said: “With seventy-eight thousand applications in two weeks, this is turning out to be the most desired job in history. These numbers put us right on track for our goal of half a million applicants.”
“Mars One is a mission representing all humanity and its true spirit will be justified only if people from the entire world are represented. I’m proud that this is exactly what we see happening,” he said.
As part of the application every applicant is required to explain his/her motivation behind their decision go to Mars in an one minute video. Many applicants are choosing to publish this video on the Mars One website. These are openly accessible on applicants.mars-one.com.
“Applicants we have received come from a very wide range of personalities, professions and ages. This is significant because what we are looking for is not restricted to a particular background. From Round 1 we will take forward the most committed, creative, resilient and motivated applicants,” said Dr. Norbert Kraft, Mars One Chief Medical Officer.
Mars One will continue to receive online applications until August 31st 2013. From all the applicants in Round 1, regional reviewers will select around 50-100 candidates for Round 2 in each of the 300 geographic regions in the world that Mars One has identified.
Four rounds make the selection process, which will come to an end in 2015;
Mars One will then employ 28-40 candidates, who will train for around 7 years. Finally an audience vote will elect one of groups in training to be the envoys of humanity to Mars.
Andrew Rader has always wanted to be an astronaut and he’s ready to do anything to get into space — even spend the rest of his life on Mars. The Ottawa native is one of at least 35 Canadians to apply for a mission to the Red Planet in 2023. Read more>>
Rader, 34, had already applied to become a member of the Canadian astronaut corps in 2009 but he wasn’t chosen. “I’ve always wanted to work in space and to be an astronaut is really my ultimate goal,” he said. Rader has discussed his far-out plan with his parents, and brother and sister, whom he said are supportive. Not everyone is thrilled with the idea, though. He said his aunt considers the idea a “suicide mission.” “There are enormous risks. That being said, I think that the risks are worth taking. I mean, major leaps required major risks,” he said. “Life is short, life is precious and that’s why you really should do major things that you believe in.” Rader admitted that he views the project as a “very, very long shot.” “The chances if it actually getting carried out as stated are extraordinarily slim,” he said. “(But) I think there is a very small chance that if all the dominoes fall in the right place, it could happen.”
Mars One plans to establish the first human settlement on Mars. According to their schedule, the first crew of four astronauts would arrive on Mars in 2023, after a seven month journey from Earth. Further teams would join their settlement every two years, with the intention that by 2033 there would be over twenty people living and working on Mars. The astronaut selection process began on April 22 2013. 
As of April 2013, the mission plan is as follows:
- 2013: a replica of the settlement will be built for training purposes.
- 2014: The first communication satellite will be produced.
- July 2015: The astronaut selection process will be completed; six teams of four.
- 2016: A supply mission will be launched during January (arriving October) with 2,500 kilograms (5,500 lb) of food in a 5-metre (16 ft) diameter variant of the SpaceX Dragon. The fallback if this is not ready in time is either to use a 3.8-metre (12 ft) Dragon or to delay by two years.
- 2018: An exploration vehicle will launch to pick the location of the settlement.
- 2021: Six additional Dragon capsules and another rover will launch with two living units, two life support units and two supply units.
- 2022: A SpaceX Falcon Heavy will launch with the first group of four colonists.
- 2023: The first colonists will arrive on Mars in a modified Dragon capsule.
- 2025: A second group of four colonists will arrive.
- 2033: The colony will reach 20 settlers.
The Mars One website states that the team behind Mars One began planning of Mars One in 2011. The company states that they researched the feasibility of the idea with specialists and expert organizations, and discussed the financial, psychological and ethical aspects of it.
7-month trip to Mars. The modules that would be used to create a habitat, with the help of robots, would be sent up first. Eventually, the first settlers would arrive following a seven-month trip. http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2013/05/10/one-way-mars-trip-canadians.html
Mars One has identified at least one potential supplier for each component of the mission. The major components are to be acquired from proven suppliers.
The Falcon Heavy from SpaceX is the anticipated launcher.
Mars Transit Vehicle
A manned interplanetary spacecraft which would transport the crew to Mars. It would be assembled in low earth orbit and comprise two propellant modules, a Transit Living Module (discarded just before arrival at Mars) and a lander (see “Human Lander” below).
The likely supplier for the Transit living module is Thales Alenia Space.
A satellite in Mars orbit to relay video, speech and data between the settlement and Earth, and the related transceivers on Mars and Earth. The likely supplier for the satellite is Surrey Satellite Technology.
Mars One plans to use a 5 metres (16 ft)-diameter variant of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule. It would have a volume of ~25m3.
Mars One Dragon capsules will be used in five roles:
- Life Support Unit – a lander containing systems for generating from Martian resources the energy, water and breathable air needed by the settlers. The likely supplier for these systems is Paragon Space Development.
- Supply Unit – a lander carrying only cargo (supplies).
- Living Unit – a lander containing an inflatable module to provide habitable space for the settlers on Mars. The likely supplier of the inflatables is ILC Dover.
- Human Lander – a lander to carry the settlers to the surface of Mars (see “Mars Transit Vehicle” above).
- Rover Lander – a lander to carry the two rovers to the surface of Mars.
The rover would be unpressurized and support travel distances of 80 km (50 miles). The likely supplier for the rover is Astrobotic Technology.
The Mars Suit would be flexible to allow the settlers to work with both cumbersome construction materials and sophisticated machinery when they are outside the habitat while protecting them from the cold, low pressure and noxious gases of the Martian atmosphere. The likely supplier of the suits is ILC Dover. On March 12, 2013, Paragon Space Development Corporation were contracted to develop concepts for life support and the Mars Surface Exploration Spacesuit System.
As of May 2013, over 78,000 people have indicated interest to be explorers on the one-way trips to Mars. Initial screening of the applicant pool will begin before the end of 2013.
The Mars One initiative bears similarity to a plan detailed in the 2010 book, “The Human Mission to Mars: Colonizing the Red Planet”, edited by Dr. Joel Levine, NASA Senior Scientist Science Directorate. The book’s authors included over 40 NASA scientists and engineers, including men who walked on the moon. The book gave a step-by step plan for establishing a colony of Mars, and in the chapter titled “Marketing Mars” included a marketing plan for raising over $100 billion dollars by selling naming rights and television rights, including reality TV competition for would-be astronauts. The “Marketing Mars” financing plan received significant media attention, and efforts were made to bring a bill before Congress to establish an official funding organization.
Chris Welch, director of Masters Programs at the International Space University has said “Even ignoring the potential mismatch between the project income and its costs and questions about its longer-term viability, the Mars One proposal does not demonstrate a sufficiently deep understanding of the problems to give real confidence that the project would be able to meet its very ambitious schedule.”
Space tourist Richard Garriott stated in response to Mars One, “Many have interesting viable starting plans. Few raise the money to be able to pull it off.”
Robert Zubrin, advocate for manned Martian exploration, said “I don’t think the business plan closes it. We’re going to go to Mars, we need a billion dollars, and we’re going to make up the revenue with advertising and media rights and so on. You might be able to make up some of the money that way, but I don’t think that anyone who is interested in making money is going to invest on that basis — invest in this really risky proposition, and if you’re lucky you’ll break even? That doesn’t fly.”
Wired magazine gave it a plausibility score of 2 out of 10 as part of their 2012 Most Audacious Private Space Exploration Plans.
As of January 2013 the Mars One advisory board includes:
- Tanja Masson-Zwaan – Deputy Director of the International Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University, President of the International Institute of Space Law, board member of the Netherlands Space Society, advisory board member of the Space Generation Advisory Council and was on the founding board of Women in Aerospace Europe.
- Brian Enke – Senior Space Research Analyst at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, USA.
- Professor Pascale Ehrenfreund – lead investigator with the NASA Astrobiology Institute.
- Dr. Gino Ormeno – Aviation Medical Examiner.
- Steve Carsey – UK television executive and CEO of Conceive Media, a consultancy, development and production venture specialising in the creation of cross platform entertainment brands for the global market.
- Dr. Raye Kass – Professor of Applied Human Sciences at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.
- Professor Thais Russomano – has over 20 years experience in Aerospace Medicine, Space Physiology and Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, and Telemedicine & eHealth research and development.
- Dr. Christopher P. McKay – Planetary Scientist at NASA Ames. He has a particular interest in the evolution of the Solar System and the origin of life and is actively involved in planning for future Mars missions including human exploration. Dr McKay has been involved with research in several Mars-like environments and has traveled to the Antarctic Dry Valleys, the Atacama Desert, the Arctic, and the Namib Desert.
- Dr. John D. Rummel – Director of the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy at East Carolina University.
- Dr. John W. Traphagan – Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Centennial Commission and the Liberal Arts Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin.
- Dr. James R. Kass – has worked in the field of human spaceflight for more than 30 years.
- Jamie Guined – exercise scientist at the Exercise Physiology Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center and countermeasures researcher at the NASA Flight Analogs Research Unit, and science faculty member at the University of Phoenix.
- Professor Stefano Stramigioli – professor of Advanced Robotics and chair holder at the Robotics and Mechatronics group at the University of Twente and a member of the ESA topical team on the dynamics of prehension in micro-gravity and its application to robotics and prosthetics.
- Dr. Günther Reitz – head of the department of Radiation Biology, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center where he leads research on the biological effects of space radiation in manned space missions. Permanent chairman of the Workshop of Radiation Monitoring on the ISS (WRMISS) since its foundation in 1996.
- Professor Leo Marcelis – professor in Crop Production in Low-Energy Greenhouses, Wageningen University, The Netherlands where he leads research into crop management, crop physiology and the modelling of greenhouse horticulture. He has over 25 years of experience in research on plant growth in controlled environments (greenhouses and climate rooms). Working in close collaboration with other university departments he develops complete and reliable food systems.
On 31 August 2012, company officials announced that funding from its first sponsors had been received. Corporate sponsorship money will be used mostly to fund the conceptual design studies provided by the aerospace suppliers.
Sponsors for Mars One include:
- Byte Internet (Dutch internet service provider)
- Aleph Objects, Inc. (U.S. developer and manufacturer of rapid prototyping 3D printers)
- verkkokauppa.com (Finland’s 2nd largest consumer electronics retailer)
- VBC Notarissen (Dutch law firm)
- MeetIn (Dutch consulting company)
- New-Energy.tv (Dutch web station)
- Dejan SEO (Australian search engine optimization company)
- Minneapolis Design (Minneapolis Web Design Firm)
- Intrepid Research & Development (U.S. engineering company)
- Gerald W. Driggers (author of The Earth-Mars Chronicles)
- Adknowledge (U.S. digital advertising company)
- Trans Space Travels (German foundation)
- Edinburgh International Science Festival
- Baluw Research (Dutch market research firm)
- Mind Power Hungary (Hungarian language translation firm)
- Regus (multinational business and facility management corporation)
- KIVI NIRIA (Royal Institution of Engineers in the Netherlands)
- Rockstart Accelerator
- Space Dream Studios (space-related software and games)
- Kliniek Amstelveen (Dutch medical services)
- Mpress Books (British publishing firm)
- MakeAmsterdam (graphic design and branding)
- Great Communicators (speech training)
Since December 2012 and the official announcement of their conversion to a Stichting, Mars One has been accepting one off and regular monthly donations through their website. As of 29 April 2013, Mars One has received $84,121 in donations.