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 Capsule
Crew vehicle Mars One Dragon (planned)
Crew capacity Four
Launch vehicle(s) Falcon Heavy (planned)

Mars One is a not-for-profit organization based in the Netherlands that has put forward conceptual plans to establish a permanent human colony on Mars by 2025,[1] also having the first humans land on Mars and beating NASA's Orion missions by a decade.[2] The private spaceflight project is led by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, who announced plans for the Mars One mission in May 2012.[3]

Mars One's concept includes launching four carefully selected applicants in a Mars-bound spaceflight in 2024, to become the first residents of Mars, and that every step of the crew’s journey will be documented for a reality television program.


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 the financial, psychological and ethical aspects of it.[4]

Initial mission plans[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 2016 and transporting the first human colonists to Mars in 2023.

The initial mission plan included:[5]

  • 2013: The first 40 astronauts were to have been selected;[6] a replica of the settlement was planned to be built for training purposes.[7]
  • 2014: The first communication satellite was to have been produced.
  • 2016: A supply mission would launch with 2500 kilograms of food in a modified SpaceX Dragon.
  • 2018: An exploration vehicle would launch to pick the location of the settlement.[7]
  • 2021: Six additional Dragon capsules and another rover would launch with two living units, two life-support units and two supply units.
  • 2022: A SpaceX Falcon Heavy would launch with the first group of four colonists.[7]
  • 2023: The first colonists were to arrive on Mars in a modified Dragon capsule.
  • 2025: A second group of four colonists slated to arrive.[7]
  • 2033: The colony projected to reach 20 settlers.[8]

Recent history[edit]

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.

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."[9] Contracts started in late 2013 were merely study contracts, and plans have not been disclosed to raise the US$200 million or more needed to support the robotic mission.[9]

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.[10][11] 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.[12] 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.[12]

On June 2, 2014, Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP) announced it has gained exclusive access to the Mars One.[13]

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.[14]

Mission plans[edit]

According to their April 2013 schedule, the first crew of four astronauts would arrive on Mars in 2025, after a seven-month journey from Earth. Additional teams would join the settlement every two years, with the intention that by 2033 there would be over twenty people living and working on Mars.[citation needed] The astronaut selection process began on 22 April 2013.[15]

As of April 2013, the astronaut selection process was expected by Mars One to be completed in July 2015; six teams of four.[15]

2018 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,[16] and provide proof of concept for a subset of the key technologies for a later permanent human settlement on Mars.[17] Upon submission of Lockheed Martin's Proposal Information Package,[16] Mars One released a Request for Proposals[18] for the various payloads on the lander. The total payload mass of 44 kg is divided among the seven payloads as follows:[18]

  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)

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.[19]

2020 unmanned lander mission[edit]

In 2020, 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 24/7 communication with the Mars One colony.[20]

2022 Cargo mission launch[edit]

In 2022, the cargo mission will be launched, containing two life-support units, and two supply units.[20]

2024 Mars One Launch[edit]

A spacecraft containing four astronauts will be launched for Mars.[20]

2025 Mars One Landing[edit]

In 2025, 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.[20]

Astronauts selection and training[edit]

The application period[edit]

Circle frame.svg

Country-wise distribution of the 202,586 applicants in Round 1 (correct to the nearest percent)[21]

   United States (24%)
   India (10%)
   China (6%)
   Brazil (5%)
   United Kingdom (4%)
   Canada (4%)
   Russia (4%)
   Mexico (4%)
   Philippines (2%)
   Spain (2%)
   Colombia (2%)
   Argentina (2%)
   Australia (1%)
   France (1%)
   Turkey (1%)
  Other (28%)

The application was available from 22 April 2013 to 31 August 2013.[22][23] 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.

Anyone over the age of 18 may apply, as long as the application is submitted in one of the 11 most used languages on the internet:[24] English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Russian, Arabic, Indonesian, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Applicants are judged on resiliency, adaptability, curiosity, ability to trust, and creativity.

By 9 September 2013, 2,782 applicants had paid their registration fee and submitted public videos in which they made their case for going to Mars in 2023.[25] The application fee varies from US $5 to US $75 (the amount depending on the relative wealth of the applicant's country).[26]

Circle frame.svg

Country-wise distribution of the 1,058 applicants selected for Round 2[27][28]

   United States (28.4%)
   Canada (7.1%)
   India (5.9%)
   Russia (4.9%)
   Australia (4.1%)
   China (3.8%)
   United Kingdom (3.4%)
   Spain (2.6%)
   South Africa (2.4%)
   Brazil (2.2%)
  Other (35.2%)

Circle frame.svg

Distribution of the 1,058 applicants selected for Round 2 according to the academic degree[28]

  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.[9] 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.[29][30][31]

The 10 countries with most applicants in round 2, as well as the gender split for each one, are given in the following table:[44]

Candidates by nationality Total Male Female
United States of America 297 149 148
Canada 75 32 43
India 62 40 22
Russia 52 22 30
Australia 43 23 17
China 40 21 19
United Kingdom 36 17 19
Spain 27 18 9
South Africa 25 20 5
Brazil 23 11 12

For those who did not make it in, Mars One may take more applicants at an unspecified later date; but selected candidates must disclose themselves and provide a medical statement of good health from a physician before the interview.

Circle frame.svg

Continent-wise distribution of the 1,058 applicants selected for Round 2.[28]

  North America (35.54%)
  Europe (27.88%)
  Asia (19.47%)
  Africa (5.01%)
  Oceania (4.35%)

The interview period[edit]

The 705 candidates (418 men and 287 women) that made it to the interview process after the medical review came from:

  • 313 from the Americas
    • 204 from USA
    • 54 from Canada (27 men and 27 women)
    • 55 from Latin America
  • 187 from Europe
  • 136 from Asia
  • 41 from Africa
  • 28 from Oceania

Regional selection period[edit]

Medically cleared candidates will then be interviewed by one of the regional selection committees who will select applicants to continue to the next step. Details of the 2014 selection phases have not been agreed upon due to ongoing negotiations with media companies for the rights to televise the selection processes.[45]

The regional selection could be broadcast on TV and Internet in countries around the world. In each region, 20–40 applicants will participate 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 will select one winner per region, and the experts can select additional participants, if needed, to continue to the international level.[46][47]

From the first selection series, six groups of four will become full-time employees of the Mars One astronaut corps, after which they'll train for the mission. Whole teams and individuals might be selected out during training when they prove not to be suitable for the mission.

International selection[edit]

The international event is planned to be broadcast throughout the world. The Mars One selection committee will create international groups of four candidates. Those groups will then be expected to demonstrate their ability to live in harsh living conditions, and work together under difficult circumstances. The groups are expected to receive their first short term training in a replica of the Mars outpost.

From the previous selection series, six groups of four will become full-time employees of the Mars One astronaut corps, after which they will 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, will be selected for seven years of full-time training. It is anticipated that this selection round will run until the end of 2015.[46]

Technical training[edit]

The astronauts will be required to learn skills and gain proficiency in a wide variety of disciplines.[citation needed]

  • two astronauts must be proficient in the use and repair of all equipment in order to be able to identify and solve technical problems.
  • two astronauts will receive extensive medical training in order to be able to treat minor and critical health problems, including first aid and use of the medical equipment that will accompany them to Mars. Meaning at least two crewmembers will be trained in each essential skill-set in case a member becomes ill. Their training and preparations will take all the time between their admittance to the program, and the start of their journey to Mars.
  • one person will train in studies on Mars geology
  • another one will gain expertise in exobiology, the search for life beyond Earth, and the effects of extraterrestrial environments on living things.

Personal training[edit]

The ability to cope with the difficult living environment on Mars will be an important selection criterion. The astronauts will be initially chosen for their inherent ability to cope with these environments, and will receive training on most effectively dealing with them.[citation needed]

Group training[edit]

Group training will take place in the form of simulation missions. A simulation mission is an extensive, fully immersive exercise that prepares the astronauts for the real mission to Mars. The simulated environment will invoke as many of the Mars conditions as possible. Immediately after selection, the groups will participate in these simulations for three months per year.[citation needed] During simulations, astronauts will only be able to leave the base when wearing their Mars suits. They will have to take care of their water supply and keep the life support systems up and running. They must also cultivate their own food, and all communications with the outside world will be artificially delayed by twenty minutes.

There will be several simulation bases, some easy to access for early stage, while others will be located in a harsh environments on Earth, providing realistic desert terrain and drastically cold conditions.[citation needed] These trials will demonstrate whether they are suitable for all elements of the task ahead.

Revenues and investment[edit]

Revenues that Mars One has received from merchandise sale, donations and the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign until 6 September 2014.[48]
Country of buyer/donor Revenue amount (in US $)
 United States
 United Kingdom
 New Zealand
Others (80 countries)
Total (from 100 countries)

Reality TV[edit]

A one-way trip, excluding the cost of maintaining four astronauts on Mars until they die, is claimed to cost approximately 6 billion USD.[49] 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".[50] 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.[51]

Mars One, the not-for-profit foundation, is the controlling stockholder of the for-profit Interplanetary Media Group.[52] 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.[53][54]

Circle frame.svg

Mars One's investment of revenues[48]

  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%)


On 31 August 2012, company officials announced that funding from its first sponsors had been received.[49] Corporate sponsorship money will be used mostly to fund the conceptual design studies provided by the aerospace suppliers.[49]

Sponsors and contributors for Mars One include:[49][55]

Donations and merchandise[edit]

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 $218,450 in donations and merchandise sales.[68] The recent donation update adds the Indiegogo campaign ($313,744) to the private donation and merchandise total. The new total is $544,026 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.[69]

Crowd funding[edit]

On 10 December 2013, Mars One set up a crowd funding 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.[70]

Intellectual property (IP)[edit]

Mars One has stated that it will retain ownership of technology developed for its mission, and that subsequent licensing fees from this technology will help fund future missions.[71]


Mars One has identified at least one potential supplier for each component of the mission.[5][72] The major components are to be acquired from proven suppliers.[73] As of May 2013, Mars One has a contract with only one company, Paragon Space Development Corporation, for a preliminary life support study.[74]


The Falcon Heavy from SpaceX was the notional launcher in the early Mars One conceptual plan,[73] 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."[74] 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.[75]

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).[73][76]

A potential supplier for the Transit living module as of November 2012 was Thales Alenia Space.[77][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.[78][79] 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.[79] 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.[79]


The notional Mars One lander is a 5 meters (16 ft)-diameter variant of SpaceX's Dragon capsule.[citation needed] The lander is planned to 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.[80] The likely supplier for these systems is Paragon Space Development.[77]
  • Supply Unit – a lander carrying only cargo (supplies).[73]
  • Living Unit – a lander containing an inflatable module to provide habitable space for the settlers on Mars.[81]
  • Human Lander – a lander to carry the settlers to the surface of Mars (see "Mars Transit Vehicle" above).[73]
  • Rover Lander – a lander to carry the two rovers to the surface of Mars.[82]


The rover would be unpressurized and support travel distances of 80 km (50 miles).[83] A potential supplier for the rover as of November 2012 was Astrobotic Technology.[77][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.[84] The likely supplier of the suits is ILC Dover.[85] 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.[86]


As of April 2014 the Mars One advisory board includes:


Mars One has received a variety of criticism, mostly relating to medical,[104] technical and financial feasibility.

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."[105]

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."[106]

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."[107] Despite his criticisms of some of the elements of Mars One, Zubrin became an advisor to Mars One on 10 October 2013.[87]

Many have also 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.[108]

Wired magazine gave it a plausibility score of 2 out of 10 as part of their 2012 Most Audacious Private Space Exploration Plans.[109]

In January 2014, German former astronaut Ulrich Walter strongly criticised 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 organise a protest."[110]

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin in an interview said that he wants to see humans on Mars by 2035, but he does not think the nonprofit organization Mars One will be the first to achieve it.[111]

A space logistics analysis conducted by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology revealed that in the most optimistic of scenarios would require 15 Falcon Heavy launches that would cost approximately $4.5 billion.[112] 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.[112] 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.[113] The Mars One project disputes the habitat findings of the study, pointing out the consultation done indicating its habitat and habitat technologies were viable.[114]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]