05 Jun 2012

With all the current buzz related to Space and exploration, none really have definitive plans to set up a colony on Mars.  Enter a new private space venture called Mars One, a company from the Netherlands.  They aim to send four astronauts on a one way trip to Mars in just 11 years.

Who is Mars One

Entrepreneur and researcher Bas Landsdorp is the founder and has previously headed an alternative energy company.  This new venture isn't quite as shiny as other companies like SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk.

While Mars One comes off with high intentions and hope there isn't much capital behind this venture as of yet.  But that may change in the near future.  So far Landsdorp calls how they will fund the mission "media spectacle."  It's unclear what this might imply, perhaps sponsorships or some other means.

Mars One is backed by some bigger names in science.  Mission ambassador, a Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Gerard 't Hooft said "This is an extraordinary project by people with vision, imagination.  I think that this could be a way to get the first human colony started on Mars."

The Plan

What Mars One does have that others fail is a definite and achievable list of things for the near future.

  1. Sending a communications satellite to Mars in 2016.
  2. Send a rover in 2018 and determine the best location for a colony.
  3. Send infrastructure in 2020 for colonists to live in, including solar panels and machines that convert Martian materials into oxygen and water
  4. Then on the date of September 14th, 2022, Mars One will send its four astronauts.

This journey to the planet in 2022 will take 10 months, but the astronauts have been preparing for 10 years.  Part of that prep may include figuring out how to live and cooperate in such cramped quarters for a long time.

Mars One will then send two more astronauts every two years, but no one will return.  Its a permanent base with an ultimate and long duration goal of terraforming the Red Planet

Feasiblity

How feasible is something like this?  "It is technically feasible.  The question is not a technical or material question.  It is a question of morale," according to Dr. Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society and author of "The Case For Mars."

Can Mars One do something others have been wanting to do for years?  According to Richard Garriott, a private astronaut and NASA consultant, "It is definitely NOT more serious than many hopeful Google Lunar X-Prize teams.  Many have interesting viable starting plans.  Few raise money to be able to pull it off." 

Garriot does agree with the basic outline of the Mars One plan.  "I think people who go to Mars first ought to be settlers.  To get people back off Mars is harder than getting people off of Earth because it's another world.  Maybe we'll start bringing people the other way in a hundred years."  This he was quoted as saying to the BBC back in February.

Source:  Huffingtonpost


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