|Country of origin||Netherlands|
|Responsible organization||Mars One and Interplanetary Media Group|
|Program duration||2010 – Present|
|First flight||January 2018 (planned)|
|First crewed flight||April 2024 (planned)|
|Crew vehicle||Mars One Dragon (planned)|
|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. The private spaceflight project is led by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, who announced plans for the Mars One mission in May 2012.
Mars One's current 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Current mission plans
- 3 Astronauts selection and training
- 4 Revenues and investment
- 5 Technology
- 6 Advisors
- 7 Criticism
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Planning of Mars One already started in 2011 in discussions between the two founders, Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders. The feasibility of the idea was consequently researched with specialists and expert organizations, which discussed the financial, psychological and ethical aspects of it.
Initial mission plans
Mars One initially publically announced plans for a one-way trip to Mars in May 2012, with a notional plan for an initial robotic precursor mission in 2016, and transporting the first human colonists to Mars in 2023.
The initial mission plan included:
- 2013: The first 40 astronauts were to have been selected; a replica of the settlement was planned to be built for training purposes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 2023: The first colonists were to arrive on Mars in a modified Dragon capsule.
- 2025: A second group of four colonists slated to arrive.
- 2033: The colony projected to reach 20 settlers.
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." 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.
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. 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. 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.
On June 2, 2014, Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP) announced it has gained exclusive access to the Mars One.
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.
Current mission plans
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. The astronaut selection process began on 22 April 2013.
2018 unmanned lander mission
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, and provide proof of concept for a subset of the key technologies for a later permanent human settlement on Mars. Upon submission of Lockheed Martin's Proposal Information Package, Mars One released a Request for Proposals for the various payloads on the lander. The total payload mass of 44 kg is divided among the eight payloads as follows:
- Water extraction (10 kg)
- Soil acquisition (15 kg)
- Thin film solar power demonstrator (6 kg)
- Camera system (5 kg)
- Open for random proposals from the highest bidder (2 kg)
- Open for random proposals from the highest bidder (2 kg)
- Educational payload (2 kg)
- Winning university experiment (2 kg)
Astronauts selection and training
The application period
The application was available from 22 April 2013 to 31 August 2013. 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 Internet: 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. The application fee varies from US $5 to US $75 (the amount depending on the relative wealth of the applicant's country).
The results of applicants selected for round 2 were declared on 30 December of 2013. A total of 1,058 applicants from 107 countries were selected. 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.
The 10 countries with most applicants in round 2, as well as the gender split for each one, are given in the following table:
|Candidates by nationality||Total||Male||Female|
|United States of America||297||149||148|
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.
The interview period
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
- 187 from Europe
- 136 from Asia
- 41 from Africa
- 19 from South Africa
- 28 from Oceania
Regional selection period
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
The astronauts will be required to learn skills and gain proficiency in a wide variety of disciplines.
- 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.
- Other specialties like physiotherapy, psychology and electronics will be shared among all astronauts in each of the initial groups.
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.
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. 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. These trials will demonstrate whether they are suitable for all elements of the task ahead.
Revenues and investment
|Country of buyer/donor||Revenue amount (in US $)|
|Others (80 countries)||
|Total (from 100 countries)||
A one-way trip, excluding the cost of maintaining four astronauts on Mars until they die, is claimed to cost approximately 6 billion USD. 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". 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.
Mars One, the not-for-profit foundation, is the controlling stockholder of the for-profit Interplanetary Media Group. 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.
On 31 August 2012, company officials announced that funding from its first sponsors had been received. Corporate sponsorship money will be used mostly to fund the conceptual design studies provided by the aerospace suppliers.
- Australian Science (Australian-based science project)
- Byte Internet (Dutch Internet service provider)
- Aleph Objects, Inc. (U.S. developer and manufacturer of rapid prototyping 3D printers)
- Verkkokauppa.com (Finland's 2nd largest consumer electronics retailer)
- Gerald W. Driggers (author of The Earth-Mars Chronicles)
- SoftLayer Technologies, Inc. (U.S.-managed hosting and cloud computing provider)
- VBC Notarissen (Dutch law firm)
- MeetIn (Dutch consulting company)
- Intrepid Research & Development (U.S. engineering company)
- Trans Space Travels (German foundation)
- Edinburgh International Science Festival
- Baluw Research (Dutch market research firm)
- Mind Power Hungary (Hungarian language translation firm)
- Regus (multinational business and facility management corporation)
- Feinstein Associates (International Air & Space law firm)
- KIVI NIRIA (Royal Institution of Engineers in the Netherlands)
- Rockstart Accelerator
- Space Dream Studios (space-related software and games)
- Kliniek Amstelveen (Dutch medical services)
- Mpress Books (British publishing firm)
- MakeAmsterdam (graphic design and branding)
- Great Communicators (speech training)
- Dejan SEO (Australian marketing firm)
- Sonic Voyage (Dutch video production company) 
Donations and merchandise
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. 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.
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. However, since the ending date was drawing near they decided to extend the ending date for more time. It ended on 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.
Intellectual property (IP)
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.
Mars One has identified at least one potential supplier for each component of the mission. The major components are to be acquired from proven suppliers. As of May 2013[update], Mars One has a contract with only one company, Paragon Space Development Corporation, for a preliminary life support study.
The Falcon Heavy from SpaceX was the notional launcher in the early Mars One conceptual plan, 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." 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.
Mars transit vehicle
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).
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. 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. 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.
- Life Support Unit – a lander containing systems for generating from Martian resources the energy, water and breathable air needed by the settlers. The likely supplier for these systems is Paragon Space Development.
- Supply Unit – a lander carrying only cargo (supplies).
- Living Unit – a lander containing an inflatable module to provide habitable space for the settlers on Mars.
- Human Lander – a lander to carry the settlers to the surface of Mars (see "Mars Transit Vehicle" above).
- Rover Lander – a lander to carry the two rovers to the surface of Mars.
The rover would be unpressurized and support travel distances of 80 km (50 miles). A potential supplier for the rover as of November 2012[update] was Astrobotic Technology.[non-primary source needed]
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. The likely supplier of the suits is ILC Dover. 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.
As of April 2014[update] the Mars One advisory board includes:
- Robert Zubrin – aerospace engineer, established Mars Direct in 1990 and the Mars Society in 1998, worked for Lockheed Martin on developing strategies for space exploration; joined Mars One advisory board on 10 October 2013.
- Tanja Masson-Zwaan – Deputy Director of the International Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University, President of the International Institute of Space Law, board member of the Netherlands Space Society, advisory board member of the Space Generation Advisory Council and was on the founding board of Women in Aerospace Europe.
- Brian Enke – Senior Space Research Analyst at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, USA.
- Professor Pascale Ehrenfreund – lead investigator with the NASA Astrobiology Institute.
- Dr. Gino Ormen – Aviation Medical Examiner.
- Steve Carsey – UK television executive and CEO of Conceive Media, a consultancy, development and production venture specialising in the creation of cross platform entertainment brands for the global market.
- Dr. Raye Kass – Professor of Applied Human Sciences at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.
- Professor Thais Russomano – has over 20 years experience in Aerospace Medicine, Space Physiology and Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, and Telemedicine & eHealth research and development.
- Dr. Christopher P. McKay – Planetary Scientist at NASA Ames. He has a particular interest in the evolution of the Solar System and the origin of life and is actively involved in planning for future Mars missions including human exploration. Dr McKay has been involved with research in several Mars-like environments and has traveled to the Antarctic Dry Valleys, the Atacama Desert, the Arctic, and the Namib Desert.
- Dr. John D. Rummel – Director of the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy at East Carolina University.
- Dr. John W. Traphagan – Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Centennial Commission and the Liberal Arts Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin.
- Dr. James R. Kass – has worked in the field of human spaceflight for more than 30 years.
- Jamie Guined – exercise scientist at the Exercise Physiology Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center and countermeasures researcher at the NASA Flight Analogs Research Unit, and science faculty member at the University of Phoenix.
- Professor Stefano Stramigioli – professor of Advanced Robotics and chair holder at the Robotics and Mechatronics group at the University of Twente and a member of the ESA topical team on the dynamics of prehension in micro-gravity and its application to robotics and prosthetics.
- Dr. Günther Reitz – head of the department of Radiation Biology, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center where he leads research on the biological effects of space radiation in manned space missions. Permanent chairman of the Workshop of Radiation Monitoring on the ISS (WRMISS) since its foundation in 1996.
- Professor Leo Marcelis – professor in Crop Production in Low-Energy Greenhouses, Wageningen University, The Netherlands where he leads research into crop management, crop physiology and the modelling of greenhouse horticulture. He has over 25 years of experience in research on plant growth in controlled environments (greenhouses and climate rooms). Working in close collaboration with other university departments he develops complete and reliable food systems.
Mars One has received a variety of criticism, mostly relating to medical, 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."
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." Despite his criticisms of some of the elements of Mars One, Zubrin became an advisor to Mars One on 10 October 2013.
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.
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."
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. 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. 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. The Mars One project disputes the habitat findings of the study, pointing out the consultation done indicating its habitat and habitat technologies were viable.
- Colonization of Mars
- Effect of spaceflight on the human body
- Health threat from cosmic rays
- Human spaceflight
- Inspiration Mars, an American non-profit organization which aims to launch a manned mission to fly by Mars in January 2018
- Manned mission to Mars
- Mars Colonial Transporter
- MARS-500, a psychosocial isolation experiment conducted between 2007 and 2011 by Russia
- Mars to Stay
- Non-rocket spacelaunch
- Private spaceflight
- Space medicine
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