Mars One

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This article is about the one-way manned trip to Mars planned for 2024. For the first Soviet spacecraft for Mars, see Mars 1. For other uses, see Mars 1 (disambiguation).
"MarsOne" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Marsone.
Mars One
Mars One logo.png
Country of origin Netherlands
Responsible organization Mars One and Interplanetary Media Group
Status Active
Program history
Program duration 2010–present
First flight January 2018 (planned)
First crewed flight April 2024 (planned)
Vehicle information
Vehicle type TBA
Crew vehicle TBA
Crew capacity TBA
Launch vehicle(s) TBA

Mars One is a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands that has put forward plans to land the first humans onto Mars and establish a permanent human colony there by 2027.[1] The private spaceflight project is led by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, who announced plans for the Mars One project in May 2012.[2] The project's schedule, technical and financial feasibility, as well as ethics have been widely criticized by scientists, engineers and those in the aerospace industry.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

Mars One's original concept included launching a robotic lander and orbiter as early as 2016 to be followed by a human crew of four in 2022. Organizers plan for the crew to be selected from applicants who paid an administrative fee, to become the first permanent residents of Mars with no plan of returning to Earth. Partial funding options include a proposed reality television program documenting the journey. In February 2015, the primary contractors on the robotic missions confirmed that work had ended on those missions with the completion of contracts on initial studies.[10]

The Mars One organization is the controlling stockholder of the for-profit Interplanetary Media Group.


Bas Lansdorp, founder of Mars One

Planning for Mars One began in 2011 with discussions between the two founders, Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders. The feasibility of the idea was then researched with specialists and expert organizations, which discussed its financial, psychological and ethical aspects.[11]

The Mars One project has no connection with Inspiration Mars, a similarly-timed project to send a married couple on a Mars flyby and return them to Earth over a period of 500 days.[12]

Initial mission plan status[edit]

Mars One publicly announced plans in May 2012 for a one-way trip to Mars, with plans for an initial robotic precursor mission in 2020 and transporting the first human colonists to Mars in 2024.[13]

Initial plan First modification Second modification[14][15] Milestone Latest status
2013 2015 2015 Candidate pool reduced to 40 astronauts,[16] replica of the settlement built for training purposes.[17] Candidate pool reduced to 100[4]
2014 2018 2020 The first communication satellite, and a Mars lander to demonstrate certain key technologies, are launched.
2014 2020 2022 An exploration vehicle would launch to select the location of the settlement.[17]
2016 2022 2024 A supply mission would launch with 2500 kilograms of food in a modified SpaceX Dragon. Not yet contracted[5]
2021 2023 2025 Six additional Dragon capsules and another rover would launch with two living units, two life-support units and two supply units. Not yet contracted[6]
2022 2024 2026 A SpaceX Falcon Heavy would launch with the first group of four colonists.[17]
2023 2025 2027 The first colonists were to arrive on Mars in a modified Dragon capsule.
2024 2026 2028 Departure of second crew of four colonists.[17]
2025 2027 2029 Arrival of second crew on Mars.
2031 2033 2035 The colony projected to reach 20 settlers.[18]


1 [19]
2,3.^ Work on robotic missions was stopped with only initial studies being completed in February 2015.[10]
4,5.^ SpaceX has no contracts with MarsOne and the project does not appear on their launch manifest.[20]

Recent history[edit]

In December 2013, Mars One announced plans for a robotic precursor mission in 2018, two years later than had been conceptually planned in the 2012 announcements. The robotic lander is to be "built by Lockheed Martin based on the design used for NASA’s Phoenix and InSight missions, as well as a communications orbiter built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd."[21] In February 2015, Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology confirmed that contracts on the initial study phase begun in late 2013 had run out and additional contracts had not been received for further progress on the robotic missions. Plans have not been disclosed to raise the US$200 million or more needed to support the robotic mission.[10][21]

Mars One selected a second-round pool of astronaut candidates in 2013 of 1058 people—"586 men and 472 women from 107 countries"—from a larger number of some 200,000 who showed interest on the Mars One website, although this number is heavily disputed. Mars One candidate Dr. Joseph Roche claims the number of initial applicants was only 2,761.[22]

Mars One announced a partnership with Uwingu on 3 March 2014, stating that the program would use Uwingu's map of Mars in all of their planned missions.[23][24] Kristian von Bengtson began work on Simulation Mars Home for crew on 24 March 2014.

The second-round pool was whittled down to 705 candidates (418 men and 287 women) in the beginning of May 2014. 353 were removed either for medical reasons or due to personal considerations.[25] These selected persons will then begin the interview process following which several teams of two men and two women will be compiled. The teams will then begin training full-time for a future mission to Mars, while individuals and teams may be selected out during training if they are not deemed suitable for the mission.[25]

On June 2, 2014, Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP) announced it has gained exclusive access to the Mars One.[26]

On June 30, 2014, it was made public that Mars One seeks financial investment through a bidding process to send company experiments to Mars. The experiment slots will go to the highest bidder and will include company related ads, and the opportunity to have the company name on the robotic lander that's scheduled to carry the experiments to Mars in 2018.[27]

Mars One selected a third-round pool of astronaut candidates in 2015 of 100 people — "50 men and 50 women who successfully passed the second round. The candidates come from all around the world, namely 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania".

In video posted on the 19th of March 2015, Lansdorp said that because of delays in the robotic precursor mission, the first crew will not set down on Mars until 2027.[28]

Mission plans[edit]

According to their schedule as of March 2015, the first crew of four astronauts would arrive on Mars in 2027, after a seven-month journey from Earth. Additional teams would join the settlement every two years, with the intention that by 2035 there would be over twenty people living and working on Mars.[citation needed] The astronaut selection process began on 22 April 2013.[29]

As of April 2013, the astronaut selection process was expected by Mars One to be completed in July 2015; six teams of four.[29]

2020 unmanned lander mission[edit]

Artist's impression of the Phoenix spacecraft as it lands on Mars.

In December 2013, mission concept studies for an unmanned Mars mission were contracted with Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology for a demonstration mission to be launched in 2017 and land on Mars in 2018. It would be based on the design of the successful 2007 NASA Phoenix lander,[30] and provide proof of concept for a subset of the key technologies for a later permanent human settlement on Mars.[31] Upon submission of Lockheed Martin's Proposal Information Package,[30] Mars One released a Request for Proposals[32] for the various payloads on the lander. The total payload mass of 44 kg is divided among the seven payloads as follows:[32]

  1. Water extraction (10 kg)
  2. Soil acquisition (15 kg)
  3. Thin film solar power demonstrator (6 kg)
  4. Camera system (5 kg)
  5. Open for random proposals from the highest bidder (4 kg)
  6. Educational payload (2 kg)
  7. Winning university experiment (2 kg)

Concept studies for the mission have been completed but as of February 2015, no contracts to build hardware have begun.[10] Lansdorp has declined questions regarding when those contracts would be made.[10]

2022 unmanned lander mission[edit]

In 2022, an unmanned rover will be launched to Mars in order to pick a landing site for the 2025 Mars One landing and a site for the Mars One colony. At the same time, a communication satellite will be launched, enabling continuous communication with the Mars One colony.[33]

2024 cargo mission launch[edit]

In 2024, the cargo mission will be launched, containing two life-support units, and two supply units.[33]

2026 Mars One launch[edit]

A spacecraft containing four astronauts will be launched for Mars.[33]

2027 Mars One landing[edit]

In 2027, the landing module will land on Mars, containing four astronauts. They will be met by the rover launched in 2020, and taken to the Mars One colony.[33]

Astronaut selection and training[edit]

The application period[edit]

The application was available from 22 April 2013 to 31 August 2013.[34][35] The application consists of applicant’s general information, a motivational letter, a résumé and a video. Mars One plans to hold several other application periods in the future.

By 9 September 2013, 2,761 applicants[22] had paid their registration fee and submitted public videos in which they made their case for going to Mars in 2023.[36] The application fee varies from US $5 to US $75 (the amount depending on the relative wealth of the applicant's country).[37] Joseph Roche, one of the finalists, has accused the selection process being based on a point system that is primarily depended on how much money each individual generated or gave to the Mars One organization.[22][38][39] Lansdrop acknowledges a point system but denies that selection is based on money earned.[39] Roche also stated that if paid for interviews, they are asked to donate 75% of the payment to Mars One.[22][39] This was confirmed by Lansdrop.[22][39]

Circle frame.svg

Distribution of the 1,058 applicants selected for Round 2 according to the academic degree[40]

  Master's degree (15%)
  Ph.D (8%)
  Doctor of law (1%)
  Other (37%)

The results of applicants selected for round 2 were declared on 30 December 2013. A total of 1,058 applicants from 107 countries were selected.[21] The gender split is 586 male (about 55%) and 472 female (about 45%). Among the people that were selected for round 2, 159 have a master's degree, 347 have bachelor's degrees and 29 have Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degrees. The majority of the applicants are under 36 and well educated.[41][42][43]

The Mars 100[edit]

Medically cleared candidates were interviewed, and 50 men and 50 women from the total pool of 660 from around the world were selected to move on to the third round of the astronaut selection process:.[44][45]

There have been allegations that in spite of initial plans to perform regional interviews around the world, these applicants were screened by Mars One by only answering a single questionnaire over a ten-minute Skype call regarding Martian-related literature and the Mars One mission.[22][38][39]

Regional selection period[edit]

Details of the 2015 selection phases have not been agreed upon due to ongoing negotiations with media companies for the rights to televise the selection processes.[46]

The regional selection may be broadcast on TV and Internet in countries around the world. In each region, plans include 20–40 applicants participating in challenges including rigorous simulations, many in team settings, with focus on testing the physical and emotional capabilities of the remaining candidates, with the aim of demonstrating their suitability to become the first humans on Mars. The audience is to select one winner per region, and the experts can select additional participants, if needed, to continue to the international level.[47][48]

From the previous selection series, six groups of four are to become full-time employees of the Mars One astronaut corps, after which they are to train for the mission. Whole teams and individuals might be deselected during training if they prove not to be suitable for the mission. Six to ten[citation needed] teams, of four people, are to be selected for seven years of full-time training. It is anticipated that this selection round is planned to run until the end of 2015.[47]

Revenues and investment[edit]

Mars One funding comes from a variety of sources, one of which is astronaut application fees.[37]

Circle frame.svg

Mars One's investment of revenues[49]

  Concept design studies (78.3%)
  Travel expenses (11.6%)
  Legal expenses (3.3%)
  Website maintenance (2.4%)
  Communications (2.3%)
  Office and other (2.1%)

Reality TV[edit]

Mars One initially estimated a one-way trip, excluding the cost of maintaining four astronauts on Mars until they die at 6 billion USD.[50] Lansdorp has declined questions regarding the cost estimate because he believes "it would be very stupid for us to give the prices that have been quoted per component".[51] 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.[52]

Mars One, the not-for-profit foundation, is the controlling stockholder of the for-profit Interplanetary Media Group.[53] A global 'reality-TV' media event was intended to provide most of the funds to finance the expedition. The astronaut selection process (with some public participation) was to be televised and continue on through the first years of living on Mars.[54][55]

Discussions between Endemol, producers of the Big Brother series, Mars One ended with Endemol subsidiary Darlow Smithson Productions issuing a statement in February 2015 that they were "were unable reach agreement on the details of the contract" and that the company was "no longer involved in the project."[56] Lansdorp's updated plans no longer include live broadcasts from Mars but instead rely on a documentary style production adding "Just like the Olympics, we watch highlights, we don’t watch things that athletes do when they’re not performing their abilities."[57]


On 31 August 2012, company officials announced that funding from its first sponsors had been received.[50] Corporate sponsorship money will be used mostly to fund the conceptual design studies provided by the aerospace suppliers.[50]

Donations and merchandise[edit]

Revenues that Mars One has received from merchandise sale, donations and the Indiegogo crowd funding campaign until 5 January 2015.[49]
Country of buyer/donor Revenue amount (in US $)
 United States
 United Kingdom
 New Zealand
Others (80 countries)
Total (from 103 countries)

Since the official announcement of their conversion to a Stichting, Mars One has been accepting one time and regular monthly donations through their website. As of 31 January 2014, Mars One had received $795,185 in donations and merchandise sales.[58] The recent donation update adds the Indiegogo campaign ($313,744) to the private donation and merchandise total. The new total is $795,185 as of 28 February 2014. The difference showing Mars One raised $11,832 in the month of February.

The pie-chart alongside shows the break-up of Mars One's revenues into different areas. Over three quarters of the investment is in concept design studies. Mars One states that "income from donations and merchandise have not been used to pay salaries". To date, no financial records have been released for public viewing.[59]


On 10 December 2013, Mars One set up a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to fund their 2018 demonstration mission. The 2018 mission includes a lander and communications satellite, and aims to prove several mission critical technologies in addition to launch and landing. The campaign goal was to raise $400,000 USD by 25 January 2014. Since the ending date was drawing near they decided to extend the ending date to 9 February 2014. By the end of the campaign, they had received $313,744 in funds. Indiegogo will receive 9% ($28,237) of the $313,744 for the campaign failing to achieve its goal.[60]


Mars One has identified at least one potential supplier for each component of the mission.[13][61] The major components are planned to be acquired from proven suppliers.[62] As of May 2013, Mars One has a contract with only one company, Paragon Space Development Corporation, for a preliminary life support study.[63]


The Falcon Heavy from SpaceX was the notional launcher in the early Mars One conceptual plan,[62] which included the notional use of SpaceX hardware for the lander and crew habitat but, as of May 2013, SpaceX had not yet been contracted to supply mission hardware and SpaceX has stated that it did "not currently have a relationship with Mars One."[63] By March 2014, SpaceX indicated that they had been contacted by Mars One, and were in discussions, but that accommodating Mars One requirements would require some additional work and that such work was not a part of the current focus of SpaceX.[64]

Mars transit vehicle[edit]

A manned interplanetary spacecraft, which would transport the crew to Mars, 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).[62][65]

A potential supplier for the Transit living module as of November 2012 was Thales Alenia Space.[66][non-primary source needed]

Communications system[edit]

In December 2013 Mars One awarded a contract to Surrey Satellite Technology for a study of the satellite technology required to provide 24/7 communication between Earth and the Mars base.[67][68] Mars One expects that there will be at least two satellites, one in areostationary orbit above Mars and a second at the Earth – Sun L4 or L5 point to relay the signal when Mars blocks the geosynchronous satellite from line of sight to Earth.[68] It is possible that a third satellite will be required to relay the signal on the rare occasions when the sun blocks the first relay satellite from line of sight with Earth.[68]


The notional Mars One lander is a 5 meters (16 ft)-diameter variant of SpaceX's Dragon capsule.[citation needed]


The rover would be unpressurized and support travel distances of 80 km (50 miles).[69] A potential supplier for the rover as of November 2012 was Astrobotic Technology.[66][non-primary source needed]

Mars suit[edit]

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.[70] The likely supplier of the suits is ILC Dover.[71] On 12 March 2013, Paragon Space Development Corporation was contracted to develop concepts for life support and the Mars Surface Exploration Spacesuit System. The Paragon Space Development Corporation study was stated to be finished late summer 2013; Mars One continues to be silent about the results of this study.[72]


Mars One has received a variety of criticism, mostly relating to medical,[73] technical and financial feasibility. For example many have criticized the project's US$6 billion budget as being far too low to successfully transport humans to Mars. A similar project study by NASA estimated the cost of such a feat at US$100 billion, although that included transporting the astronauts back to Earth. Objections have also been raised regarding the reality TV project associated with the expedition. Given the transient nature of most reality TV ventures, many believe that as viewership declines, funding could significantly decrease thereby harming the entire expedition.[74]


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."[75]

Gerard 't Hooft, theoretical physicist and ambassador to Mars One, has stated that he thought both their planned schedule and budget were off by a factor of ten.[76] He said he still supported the project’s overall goals.[76]

A space logistics analysis conducted by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology revealed that the most optimistic of scenarios would require 15 Falcon Heavy launches that would cost approximately $4.5 billion.[77] They concluded that the reliability of Environmental Control and Life Support systems (ECLS), the Technology Readiness Levels (TRL), and in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) would have to be improved. Additionally they determined that if the costs of launch were also lowered dramatically, together this would help to reduce the mass and cost of Mars settlement architecture.[77] The environmental system would result in failure to be able to support human life in 68 days, if fire safety standards on over oxygenation were followed, due to excessive use of nitrogen supplies that would not then be able to be used to compensate leakage of air out of the habitat, leading to a resultant loss in pressurization, ending with pressures too low to support human life.[78] Lansdorp replied that although he hasn't read all the research, that supplier Lockheed Martin says that the technologies were viable.[79]

Space advocacy and policy[edit]

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."[80] Despite his criticisms, Zubrin became an adviser to Mars One on 10 October 2013.[81]

John Logsdon, a space policy specialist at George Washington University has stated "I just don't find it a credible proposition".[82]


Canadian former astronaut Julie Payette said during the opening speech for an International Civil Aviation Organization conference that she does not think Mars One "is sending anybody anywhere".[39]

In January 2014, German former astronaut Ulrich Walter strongly criticized the project for ethical reasons. Speaking with Berlin's Tagesspiegel, he estimated the probability of reaching Mars alive at only thirty percent, and that of surviving there more than three months at less than twenty percent. He said, "They make their money with that [TV] show. They don't care what happens to those people in space... If my tax money were used for such a mission, I would organize a protest."[83]

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."[84]

Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, said in an interview that he wants to see humans on Mars by 2035, but he does not think Mars One will be the first to achieve it.[85]


Wired magazine gave it a plausibility score of 2 out of 10 as part of their 2012 Most Audacious Private Space Exploration Plans.[86]

The Daily Mail enumerated reasons why the project will never happen calling the project "foolish". The project lacks current funding as well as sources for future funding. The organization has no spacecraft or rocket in development or any contracts in place with companies that could provide a spacecraft or rocket. While plans point to SpaceX for both resources, the company has no contracts with Mars One in an industry that typically plans contracts decades in advance. The organization has not shared any research into the effects of microgravity on crews in flight or reduced gravity on the Mars surface. The organization has yet to provide plans or even study how crews might survive dust storms, supply challenges or the increased radiation on Mars.[87]


In March 2015, one of the Mars One finalists, Dr. Joseph Roche, stated to media outlets that he believes the mission to be a scam. Dr. Roche holds doctorate degrees in physics and astrophysics, and shared many of his concerns and criticisms of the mission. These claims include that the organization lied about the number of applicants, stating that 200,000 individuals applied versus Roche's claim of 2,761, and that many of the applicants had paid to be put on the list. Furthermore, Roche claimed that Mars One is asking finalists for donations from any money earned from guest appearances (which would amount to a minimal portion of the estimated $6 billion required for the mission). Finally, despite being one of 100 finalists, Roche himself has never spoken to any Mars One employee or representative in person, and instead of psychological or psychometric testing as is normal for astronaut candidates (especially for a lengthy, one-way mission), his interview process consisted of a 10-minute Skype conversation.[88][89]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]