One-way trip to Mars? Sign me up, says Frenchwoman

Jan 07, 2014 by Laurent Banguet
French candidate of the Mars One settlement project, Florence Porcel, pictured on January 7, 2014 in the Paris suburb of Boulogne Billancourt

A comfortable, middle-class Parisian life may be the envy of many people, but Florence Porcel would give it all up to be among the first Earthlings to settle on Mars—even with no option of return.

"I have always felt a bit cramped on Earth," the self-confessed space junkie told AFP, delighted to be shortlisted with some 1,000 other aspiring voyagers for Mars One—a private project to colonise the Red Planet from 2024.

"I have always dreamt of exploring other worlds," the 30-year-old journalist said.

"I am not a pilot, nor a doctor, nor an engineer; I was never going to become an astronaut through the normal channels."

Porcel is among about 200,000 people from around the world who volunteered for the extraordinary project.

It would see two dozen pioneers abandon Earth for a new start on a cold, dry, oxygen-less planet some 55 million kilometres (34 million miles or six months' travel) away.

The high cost of the project, an estimated six billion dollars (4.4 billion euros), precludes the option of a return trip.

The trial resettlement is meant to be mainly funded by a reality-TV show about the project.

The final 24 would be sent to the Red Planet in six separate launches starting in 10 years, according to the Dutch-based non-profit group behind the endeavour.

A short-listed 1,058 candidates from 140 countries were informed on December 30 they had made the first cut after going through an online vetting process that included an extensive questionnaire.

Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp holds a press conference to announce the launch of astronaut selection for a Mars space mission project, in New York, April 22, 2013

The criteria, according to Mars One, include an "indomitable spirit", "good judgement", and "a good sense of play". The interplanetary pioneers must also be disease- and drug-free and English-speaking.

The list will be finalised next year after further medical and psychological tests.

Many experts scoff at the project's feasibility, questioning whether the participants would survive the physical perils and demands on their sanity.

Porcel said she was under no illusions about the challenge.

"We will be trying to survive on a hostile planet: even breathing, drinking and eating won't be a given. We will need a lot of hard work, energy and expertise... also some luck!" she said, sitting on the couch in her small apartment near Paris.

An image captured by the Mars rover "Spirit" and released by NASA on March 6, 2004 shows a view of the rocky terrain on the surface of the planet Mars

A world away from the life that awaits the pioneers—growing their own food in air-locked pods protecting them from Mars' thin, unbreathable atmosphere and sub-zero temperatures, the decor in Porcel's apartment is cosy and girly—a cherry-red carpet and heart-shaped mirror adorn the lounge.

But her life's passion is evident from the heavy sprinkling of space paraphernalia in-between—a hanging mobile of the Solar System, photos of the journalist floating in a zero gravity experimental flight, and a large collection of books on astrophysics.

Why Mars?

"I would really love to help find answers to some of Mankind's existential questions: 'Who are we?', 'Why are we alive?', 'Why are we on Earth?' and 'How was the Solar System born?'," she said.

"I am part of a generation that hasn't seen a human set foot on a celestial body other than Earth," since the end of the Moon missions in 1972.

"If Mars One gives me the chance, I will do it! It will be a first for mankind!" Porcel said, adding she had no plans to settle down or have children.

Mars One counts a Dutch 1999 Nobel Physics winner, Gerard 't Hooft, among its supporters. But there are sceptics, too.

"For now, I am ready to see this through. If I make it to the final 24 and find myself on the launch pad... perhaps it will be different... " said Porcel.

"I reserve the right to change my mind."

Explore further: Bid to colonize Mars wins high-profile backing

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Returners
1.6 / 5 (5) Jan 07, 2014
The high cost of the project, an estimated six billion dollars (4.4 billion euros), precludes the option of a return trip.


Ah haha. You guys are so ignorant.

The habitat you'd need on Mars would make the ISS look like a toy, and it cost over $120 Billion.

Maybe you meant $6 Trillion, instead of Billion, because NASA studies put the cost of a "there and back again" mission to Mars for a small crew as being around $1 Trillion.

You wouldn't be able to build and launch more than one tiny module for just $6 Billion.

For the bare minimum of colonizing, you're going to need a network of modules, landed on Mars, totaling the size of a football stadium, not just the field, and you're going to need more solar panels than all NASA programs combined because of the insane amount of heating you need, and the fact Mars gets less sunlight than Earth. Not to mention the problem of water vs temperature. The most reasonable temperatures on Mars are in the tropics, but the water in the poles.
Returners
2.5 / 5 (4) Jan 07, 2014
Just at a conceptual level, the amounts of fail-safes and redundancies you need for a real colony mission is far beyond the ISS.

You also need earth(soil)-movers to build embankments around your modules to help protect them from being destroyed by pebbles in the dust devils.

You need a fire suppression system which works with mostly passive technology, because it must work even if the power temporarily fails, which implies compressed CO2 or Helium, but CO2 is renewable on Mars while Helium isn't, and you need this for every module, and you need ways to seal off every module from every other module so you can flood the one in danger with the CO2 to put out the fire. Vacuuming oxygen out of the room/module requires power, so is not safe plan if a power spike happens. Everything like this must work absolutely every time it is needed or you all die. Period.

I don't think they know what they're doing. Every time I think about this I find another layer of complexity and fail-safes needed.
Milou
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 07, 2014
Columbus needed a lot of special safety equipment to reach the new world. Yet, he did not have half of what was necessary. Just a lot of junk and luck. If the French lady GAGA wants to go to Mars? She should consider this as a one way ticket to the grave yard (why does the grave yard have to be Earth???). Good luck to them and the "reality show", all edited for phony dramatic effects to bring in the bucks ($$$). The only reality in the whole thing is how disgraceful humans are evolving.
Returners
1 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2014
Milou:

This entire group is a joke.

They made this announcement about a year ago as well, and from the looks of it, they haven't "learned" anything since then.

I doubt you could do a comprehensive feasibility study for $6 Billion, never mind the entire project.
Zephir_fan
Jan 07, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
grondilu
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2014
To me this is a suicide mission, even if they would never admit it. But since we all have to die of something anyway, I can understand some people can think it'd be nice to die on mars.
antialias_physorg
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 07, 2014
"I am not a pilot, nor a doctor, nor an engineer;...

...which means she'd just be a waste of oxygen on this mission.

We will need a lot of hard work, energy and expertise... also some luck!"

Sweet Lord...if you're already counting on luck for your mission then that's it. Nature doesn't deal in luck.

Why anyone is considering these meat-shots (apart from the PR value) is beyond me. We'll learn nothing from people staying for a short period before their death on Mars.

...and if we absolutely have to do this: then send the producers and backers in the first launch
Returners
1 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2014
There's lots of problems with a mission to Mars.

Funding:

The only viable source at this time are governments or corporations, and no individual corporations are big enough yet either.

If Governments fund the project (colonization) the environment is necessarily communist, which hypocrite westerners hate the notion. Obviously, everyone lives on "community property" and there's no option to move elsewhere without full productivity to make additional facilities.

If a corporation or group of corporations owns the project, the colonists essentially become defacto slaves of the company(s). I guess the only bright side is that "firing" somebody would cost billions of dollars (or they could just throw them out the air-lock and nobody on Earth could investigate what happened, and our laws don't allow you to punish a crime you can't prove, for example).

Anyway, um, yeah, lots of ethical, social, moral, economic problems to sort out here.
Aliensarethere
3 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2014
I don't think these "volunteers" really know what they are in for. The best they can hope for is a quick, painless death.
Skepticus
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2014
Well, at least I can dispense with the thought that the first proposed Mars colonists' community will consist of gays.!
freeiam
3 / 5 (4) Jan 07, 2014
Insane, naïve, undoable, suïcide. The verdict is out.
Possibilus
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 07, 2014
Many detractors about this venture, and true, odds & reality are deeply tilted against them, but as one poster noted, Colombus was probably underfunded for his discovery, accidental though it was.

What MarsOne represents is the unceasing human spirit to reach beyond the known and the ordinary, for without this spirit, we do not try, we do not risk, we safely remain in our caves and never learn to create fire and evolve.

True this venture may smack of opportunism and even taking advantage of willing participants and the paying public, but it is a start at the concept of colonizing probably the most hospitable planet in our neighborhood.

The projected costs and obstacles are merely that...projections, and do not account for future technological developments that may change the metrics...in that, those who claim to be technically and scientifically informed but are really just die hard naysayers and skeptics, are in reality the ones in the cave who refuse to leave it.
Whydening Gyre
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2014
Anybody care to recall (and comment) how the English "colonized" Australia?
adam_russell_9615
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2014
Private industry just now got as far as the space station (with massive help from nasa). Mars is 133000 times as far as the space station. Thats like the difference between walking a mile to the store or walking around the earth 17 times. I really dont think any corporation is able to make a serious attempt, and I dont think they can get funding without a business plan that promises a return on investment.
Whydening Gyre
4 / 5 (4) Jan 08, 2014
Well, at least I can dispense with the thought that the first proposed Mars colonists' community will consist of gays.!

I dunno... Does anyone else catch that "I want monkey space sex with a scientist" gleam in her eye?
adam_russell_9615
5 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2014
All these volunteers will probably end up as slaves in some 3rd world country.
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2014
She's le crazy, I think. How long does anyone expect to survive on the surface of Mars? You wouldn't want to go long-term.
Waaalt
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2014
The whole thing is so implausible that it can't be real.

This has got to be a dumb stunt for an immoral reality show. They're going to tell a bunch of morons that they are going to Mars and then put them in a big trailer in a Walmart parking lot or wherever and film them all going batsh*t insane for a few months.

Then one of the last episodes is going to be where they are all told they've arrived at Mars, and the producers fake a landing by shaking the trailer etc, and they all think they're safely on Mars and make these grandiose speeches to their YouTube blogs etc and poetry blah blah and cry and hug and put on their crappy fake space suits that they are all too ignorant to realize would never work, and then they all hold hands and the pod bay doors open and they all see it's a freakin' Walmart parking lot.

If that's what this crap is, the producers should all be locked in a Gemini capsule and barbequed, because it's a disgusting insult to...well pretty much everything.
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2014
Anybody care to recall (and comment) how the English "colonized" Australia?


Similar to the way they colonized (yes, colonized) a lot of places around that time. But we're talking about a planet that's 6 months away with no air, trees, food or liquid water.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) Jan 12, 2014
They're going to tell a bunch of morons that they are going to Mars and then put them in a big trailer in a Walmart parking lot or wherever and film them all going batsh*t insane for a few months

@Waaalt
nice theory, but anyone with ANY common sense would notice that there is GRAVITY.

although i think there is much to be said about this all being a ploy to make money and it being a dumb stunt for a reality show.
i doubt seriously that these people are actually considering the fact that the trip is ONE WAY. that is pretty much saying "you're dead meat" and we are going to watch you die.

i have reservations about this project... as it stands right now.
i really dont believe it will come to pass. (this reality TV show sending people to Mars)
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2014
At least they'll be able to breathe when they come out of Wallmart.
Sinister1812
not rated yet Jan 12, 2014
Anybody care to recall (and comment) how the English "colonized" Australia?


In our defense, Australia is not the only country with indigenous people who had their land taken. I could think of a few others..

Insane, naïve, undoable, suïcide. The verdict is out.


I think it's going to be hard for them. If they can sustain food, water, air etc, then maybe they could survive. But I don't know for how long.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 12, 2014
...which means she'd just be a waste of oxygen on this mission
Youre a woman aren't you? As dr strangelove pointed out the need for propagation and recreation in colonies is paramount. But I'm sure they will also have the internet.

First off, the accelerating pace of technology indicates that independent missions to mars would soon follow and travel back and forth would become routine, and that these people will be able to retire back on earth in plenty of time to hit the talk show circuit.

The best way to ensure survival would be to send a robotic habitat on ahead, including the ability to mine and refine the necessary resources, and see how it does. It could store quantities of air, water, and food to give the colonists a head start.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 12, 2014
You need a fire suppression system which works with mostly passive technology, because it must work even if the power temporarily fails, which implies compressed CO2 or Helium, but CO2 is renewable on Mars while Helium isn't, and you need this for every module, and you need ways to seal off every module from every other module so you can flood the one in danger with the CO2 to put out the fire. Vacuuming oxygen out of the room/module requires power, so is not safe plan if a power spike happens. Everything like this must work absolutely every time it is needed or you all die. Period.
Again lrrkrrs fractured mind will not allow him to consider that these things could possibly have occurred to actual experts and engineers. Many such systems have been in use on nuke subs and the ISS for decades.
I don't think they know what they're doing
Well of course you don't you poor fellow. You don't even have to know what they're doing to decide this don't you?
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Jan 12, 2014
Anybody care to recall (and comment) how the English "colonized" Australia?


Similar to the way they colonized (yes, colonized) a lot of places around that time. But we're talking about a planet that's 6 months away with no air, trees, food or liquid water.

What I was getting at is that, at the time, Australia was a PENAL colony...
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2014
What I was getting at is that, at the time, Australia was a PENAL colony...


Damn, well this is awkward then. So sorry about that, I wasn't sure what you meant because it just seemed a bit ambiguous. But yeah, you are absolutely right, and we could do the same thing with Mars, if there aren't enough volunteers.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2014
@returners
You need a fire suppression system which works with mostly passive technology, because it must work even if the power temporarily fails, which implies compressed CO2 or Helium,...blahblahblah...Everything like this must work absolutely every time it is needed or you all die. Period

are you SERIOUS? you think we dont already have that?
you DIDNT get those MEDS checked, did you?

Like Otto says
Many such systems have been in use on nuke subs and the ISS for decades

as well as aircraft, nuclear power plants, server farms, aircraft engines, etc... the list is too long!!
It is also old technology. Been around for YEARS.

Perhaps you should look up Siemens fire suppression systems on google

and that is just ONE company

lookup- Halon 1211, Halon 1301
two VERY effective FireFighting agents.

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