Humans on Mars by 2023?

Jun 07, 2012 By Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today
Artist concept of the Mars One lander, a variant on the SpaceX Dragon. Credit: Mars One

Reality TV goes to Mars! Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp is leading a group visionaries and businesspeople who want to send four humans to Mars by 2023, and they say they can achieve their goal at an estimated cost of $6 billion USD. How can they do it? By building it into a global media spectacle. And oh, by the way, this will be a one-way trip.

“Who would be able to look away from an adventure such as this one?” asks Lansdorp in his bio on the Mars One website. “Who wouldn’t be compelled to watch, talk about, get involved in the biggest undertaking mankind has ever made? The entire world will be able to follow this giant leap from the start; from the very first astronaut selections to the established, independent village years later. The media focus that comes with the public’s attention opens pathways to sponsors and investors.”

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As far as the one-way mission the Mars One website notes, “this is no way excludes the possibility of a return flight at some point in the future.”

The difference between this mission and the one proposed by Jim McLane back in 2008 is that McLane wanted to send just one person to Mars.

However, the Mars One group says that once the first trip is successful and Mars becomes developed, it will be “much easier to build the returning rocket there.”

In a Q&A on reddit, Lansdorp said the biggest challenge will be financing.

“We have estimated, and discussed with our suppliers that it will cost about 6 billion US$ to get the first crew of four people to Mars. We plan to organize the biggest media event ever around our mission. When we launch people to Mars and when they land, the whole world will watch. After that a lot of people will be very interested to see how ‘our people on Mars’ are doing.”

But the big challenge is that the biggest expenditures will be building the equipment before they send people to Mars. “This is why we are building a very strong technical case now. If we can convince sponsors and investors that this will really happen, then we believe that we can convince them to help us finance it,” Lansdorp said.

As far as technologies, Mars One expects to use a SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy as a launch vehicle, a transit vehicle/space habitat built by Thales Alenia Space, a variant on the SpaceX Dragon as the lander, an inflatable habitat built by ILC Dover, a rover vehicle by MDA Space Missions, and Mars spacesuits made by Paragon.

The project website says “no new technologies” will be needed, but does any space agency or company really have a good handle on providing providing ample air, oxygen, energy, food and water for extended (lifetimes?) periods of time? Instead, the website provides more details on FAQ’s like, What will the astronauts do on Mars? Why should we go to Mars? Is it safe to live on Mars? How does the Mars base communicate with Earth? And the Mars One team emphasizes that this can be done with current technology. However, no one really knows how to land large payloads on Mars yet, so at least some development will be required there.

Who will go? Later this year they will begin to take applications and eventually 40 people will take part in a rigid, decade-long training program (which sounds very expensive) where the ‘contestants” will essentially be voted off the island to get to the final four astronauts. The selection and training process will be broadcast via television and online to public, with viewers voting on the final selected four.

It’s an intriguing proposition, but one filled with technological hurdles. I’ve just finished reading Ben Bova’s “Mars,” so I’m also thinking the One folks will need to be on the lookout for micrometeorite swarms.

Explore further: Lunar explorers will walk at higher speeds than thought

More information: mars-one.com/

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User comments : 18

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Moebius
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 07, 2012
Better send old people, they almost certainly won't make it back. That should not stop the effort. Exploration is never safe or cheap. We need to stop crying over the loss of life. It happens and it will happen, that's the price.
Gigel
3 / 5 (4) Jun 07, 2012
Old people may find it harder to build a local industry. Younger ones can develop the colony to such an extent that they may build a return ship in 10 years or less. Or, until then, one may be sent from Earth. A few ships going to Mars and the same number returning each year and the colonization will be much easier.
gmurphy
5 / 5 (3) Jun 07, 2012
The video has nice pictures of these pods all interconnected but it tactfully omits the process by which they were dragged from their landing zone to be integrated with the colony, I'm all for this venture, btw, it's just that there are serious technical challenges to be addressed before we should even consider sending a human being, exploration is certainly risky but it shouldn't be needless risk.
Star_Gazer
4.5 / 5 (4) Jun 07, 2012
Saidly, but true as a reality of our (western culture), media (read us, TV viewers watching Ads) can pay for this feat of space exploration.

Mars is going to be quite a boring place for these astronauts. Its one big rocky high altitude dry desert with nothing for humans to do other than put up a flag..

Certainly interesting from geological point of view, but robots have been doing superb job drilling into rocks so far.

The video has nice pictures of these pods all interconnected but it tactfully omits the process by which they were dragged from their landing zone to be integrated with the colony, I'm all for this venture, btw, it's just that there are serious technical challenges to be addressed before we should even consider sending a human being, exploration is certainly risky but it shouldn't be needless risk.

Vendicar_Decarian
4.3 / 5 (3) Jun 07, 2012
The plan is for them to die on mars.

"Better send old people, they almost certainly won't make it back. " - Mobeus

The trip is envisioned to be one way only.
nuge
5 / 5 (2) Jun 07, 2012
Where do I sign up?
sirchick
3 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2012
In 2023 ? I don't see it happening....Lets see if we can get any living human to Mars first and that won't be until at least 2020.

Perhaps 2080 to 2100 this is more likely.

The plan is for them to die on mars.

"Better send old people, they almost certainly won't make it back. " - Mobeus

The trip is envisioned to be one way only.


You would have to realllly hate your family to want to be that far away from them near the end of your life.. :D
nuge
5 / 5 (3) Jun 08, 2012
sirchick, not everybody has a family.
sirchick
5 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2012
sirchick, not everybody has a family.


If you can afford to go to Mars... you will have long lost family turning up at you're door in no time ;)
Pkunk_
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 08, 2012
The funny thing is .. If we really want to go to mars we can reach there by 2020 , why wait till 2023. The technology is 90% ready . The remaining 10% the concepts that are ready for implementation and all that is required is the $$ to make the landers and a fission reactor.

There are enough heavy-lift rockets that can send people on the way to Mars. There is nothing to spend on developing rockets.

The entire Mars surface is covered by oxides which can release oxygen given enough energy is applied. And the best place to goto is probably the poles where you can extract O2 from the water ice and get water also . Thats where the fission reactor comes in since with one load it can supply enough power to split water or even CO2 into O2.
Believe it or not O2 is even more important for humans to survive on Mars than water since it isn't radily available there.
Origin
3.5 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2012
at an estimated cost of $6 billion USD
It's not so much - it's lower than the cost of LHC collider. But the leaving of people at Mars is ugly solution both ethically, but from propagandistic perspective. Try to imagine, we will follow reality show with people, who will slowly die at Mars or somewhere at cosmic space and we will face the demonstrations, which will ask for rescue mission etc.

Such a mission would have a meaning, if it would be connected with attempt for terraformation of Mars, which we never tried under conditions of Earth and this technology is definitely not ready yet.
alfie_null
5 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2012
Mars is going to be quite a boring place for these astronauts.

Maybe not. It could well be a long sequence of puzzles to be solved, where the price of failure is grim.
Consider how many astronauts we need to keep the space station running. How much more maintenance would be needed on Mars? How much manpower would be available?
Anda
5 / 5 (2) Jun 10, 2012
Dying on Mars is easy. Living there is a different thing.

Lots of arguments, but no one here is talking about the lack of magnetic shield against UV, solar flares, etc.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (3) Jun 10, 2012
Dying on Mars is easy. Living there is a different thing.

Lots of arguments, but no one here is talking about the lack of magnetic shield against UV, solar flares, etc.

micro-meteorites... xrays... satan... god... etc..
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (2) Jun 10, 2012
Without a way to return to the earth, the martians would find themselves trapped in an 8x8 prison cell for the rest of their lives. Not even able to breath without putting on a space suit.

It would be the ultimate experience in claustrophobia.

Every day, for the rest of your life. Guaranteed.

ScottyB
1 / 5 (1) Jun 12, 2012
sounds rather similar to "Red Mars" by Kim Stanley Robinson!
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jun 12, 2012
Send Ryggtard.

He is already spaced out and living on another planet.
Bog_Mire
not rated yet Jun 12, 2012
Terraform away