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Forum:Commercial Space - Military Space
Topic:[Discuss] Mars One's plans for 2023 Mars colony
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The briefing will be moderated by Emily Lakdawalla, Senior Editor at the Planetary Society. The panel will include:

  • Bas Lansdorp, General Director and Co-Founder, Mars One
  • Norbert Kraft, Medical Director, Mars One
  • Gerard't Hooft, Nobel laureate and Ambassador, Mars One
  • Grant Anderson, Sr. VP Operations, Chief Engineer and Co-Founder, Paragon Space Development Corporation
  • Bryan Versteeg, Mission Concept Artist, Mars One
Date and Time: 22nd April, starts 12:00 p.m. EDT ends 1:30 p.m. EDT.

You can be a part of the Q&A by sending us your questions and opinions via Twitter by using the hashtag #MarsOneLaunch.

David CWhen's the closing date for applications?
Robert PearlmanRound One ends on August 31, 2013.
TykeanautI hope I'm wrong but I can't see this happening by 2023.
Robert PearlmanTheir press conference left a lot to be desired. They were unwilling to elaborate on how they arrived at a $6 billion price tag for the mission, making it near impossible to assess their credibility.

And then there is how they plan to raise the $6 billion. They expect the bulk to be underwritten by the media rights.

To pay for the Mars mission, the Mars One foundation receives revenues from the license fee from the Interplanetary Media Group, sponsors, donations and the sales of merchandise. When the media interest grows, a large fraction of the revenues will come from the license fee that IMG pays to the Mars One foundation. The Mars One foundation currently holds about 90% of the shares in IMG. This means that the Mars One foundation will receive 90% of the profit of IMG besides the license fee - all funds that will be spent on the Human Mission to Mars.
I asked them about this during the press conference (via Twitter):
#MarsOneProject Multiple TV networks failed to fund cheaper, shorter space station trips. Why think they'll fund Mars flight?
Bas Lansdorp, co-founder of Mars One, replied:
"Because they were cheaper and shorter spaceflights. The key to the interest of people is doing something that is so great that it will capture the interest of everyone. If you do something that has been done before, like a suborbital flight, which was something that was even less dramatic than the first human to fly in space, this is just something that the people are not interested in. It is about the human adventure of discovering a new planet and that is something that people are interested in. It is exactly the greatness that makes it possible to finance this.
I believe there are several things wrong with Lansdorp's assertion, including the fact that people, in general, have a short attention span and the networks know this. Heck, the majority of the world lost interest in the moon landings after Apollo 11.

Another key point is why the previous reality TV shows built around a spaceflight have failed: it wasn't just the funding, but the inability of the networks to obtain insurance. Alan Boyle with NBC News touched on this point in his coverage of the Mars One press conference:

When it comes to reality TV, money and the willingness to take on risks are the keys to success, said Hollywood producer David Krieff. He should know: Ten years ago, Krieff helped put pop singer Lance Bass through Russian cosmonaut training for a reality-TV project that would have sent him to the International Space Station. The project fizzled out when TV executives, potential sponsors and insurers got cold feet.

Krieff had some words of advice for Mars One's organizers: "I wish them luck, but I would say have the money in the bank — and most of all, have all the liabilities taken care of," he said. "The risks and the insurance and the money is a lot of work. These things are always more expensive than you expect."

On edit: To clarify, I think the media rights to a manned mission to Mars could be huge, but I don't think they are reliable enough to fund the mission from the start. I think you could recoup a good part of any investment toward such a flight from media and ad buys, but to hinge the success of the flight on the networks seems less than a sure thing.
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman: hinge the success of the flight on the networks seems less than a sure thing.

To say the least. I chided others for being negative about Inspiration Mars - a project that seems much more credible given that it has some level of funding and plausible hardware. So I'll try to avoid being negative and simply say that I'm deeply skeptical. Investors care about getting a return on their investment, and so given the very high possibility of a completely disastrous outcome it's hard to see how networks will be willing to pony up a very sizable amount of cash for such a project.

RonpurI seriously worry what would happen to the colonists if the "show" is cancelled and the funds dry up for supplies. Having the crew starve or suffocate on the surface of Mars would be pretty horrifying. But, even having said that, I would still go!
A realistic mission plan has been designed using only existing technology available through the private space industry
Are they kidding! Presently there is no rocket capable of doing the job, no spacecraft, no lander, major problems with a mission of that length which haven't been solved including protection from radiation, physiological and psychological questions. And I could name many more.

If NASA had Apollo type funding immediately they may be able to do it by 2023, although I suspect safety concerns would stretch it out closer to 2030. Remember, there are major problems going to Mars that weren't present going to the Moon. And some require innovations not yet developed (although they may be on someone's drawing board).

I hate to be a pessimist but no private company will be able to safely send people to Mars by 2023!

Robert PearlmanWell, let's look at their mission architecture:
  • Launcher: Mars One anticipates use of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, an upgraded version of the Falcon 9 which is in use by SpaceX now. The Falcon Heavy is slated to undergo test flights in 2013, granting ample time for fine-tuning prior to the Mars One missions which begin in 2016.

  • Lander: Mars One anticipates use of a variant of the SpaceX Dragon capsule, first tested in 2010. This is the same vehicle which successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) in May of 2012. The lander Mars One requires will be slightly larger than the current Dragon. The Lander will be used for 5 functions:
    1. Life Support Unit: A Lander that contains the systems for the generation of energy, water and breathable air within the settlement.
    2. Supply Unit: A Lander that contains food, spare parts and other smaller components.
    3. Living Unit: This Unit is a Lander that is outfitted with a special inflatable section. After reaching the surface of Mars, this allows it to create a large living space for humans.
    4. Human Lander: This is the unit which carries the astronauts to the surface of Mars.
    5. Rover Lander: This is the unit which carries the rovers to the surface of Mars.
In a nutshell, they plan to land five modified Dragon capsules (SpaceX is already designing Dragon to have landing legs, much like their efforts with the Grasshopper test vehicle), connect them together and dedicate each to a different mission need.

Of course, they also need to develop the "semi-autonomous" rover, spacesuit and comm system.

If they had $6 billion in the bank today and hiring SpaceX and others to start work today for a mission launching in 10 years, I would say it could be doable, but they don't have funding and seem to be relying on SpaceX and others advancing development of their needed vehicles independently of the Mars One schedule.

David CI'd like to be optimistic about this but there seem to be two major problems:
  1. Funding, we can discuss quantities all day but as I see it the real problem is lack of persistent security of funds. Colonising Mars will take decades, sustained high level media attention for 20 or 30 years, I don't think so. I certainly wouldn't bet my life on re-supply and future waves of colonists actually appearing.
  2. Colonise a planet with four people, you must be kidding. I suggest that critical mass is an order of magnitude larger.
Lots of other issues but to me those are show stoppers.
Robert Pearlman
Originally posted by David C:
Colonise a planet with four people...
Four people is only the first mission...
A new group of four astronauts will land on Mars every two years, steadily increasing the settlement's size.
Of course, that means Mars One will need to raise billions of dollars every couple of years after the first $6 billion mission is launched.

issman1I'm not sure whose more in need of a reality check: Inspiration Mars or Mars One? Surely the people behind this one-way trip must know by now that money is readily available for earthly war than colonising the Roman god of war.

And just in case I might appear cynical about their ambitious plan, I'm even more skeptical about ever seeing a human mission to Mars by the likes of NASA or ESA - in my lifetime!

Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
...they plan to land five modified Dragon capsules
I usually agree with you Robert, but really. Only two nations have ever landed a spacecraft on another planet. This company and any associated company has no experience at all in landers, yet they expect to land not 1, not 2 but 5 Dragon capsules plus an additional one with a rover on Mars and then a further manned capsule!

And there is still no design for a spacecraft that can safely carry people to Mars. The moon, yes. Asteroids, probably. Mars, no. The modified Dragon capsule is not suitable, as far as I can see, to safely reach Mars for a manned mission. That is also the problem with all the talk about NASA using present designs to go to Mars. They are not suitable without major modifications which nobody has agreed on the design. One example, radiation protection is still only in the theoretical stage and may very well add considerable weight to the capsule. Not need for unmanned capsules but essential for a manned capsule.

And that doesn't include...

The supply mission will be launched for Mars in January 2016
In 2018 the first settlement rover will land on Mars
In addition, after the first manned landing
A few weeks later, five cargo missions arrive, bringing additional living units, life support units, and a third rover.
Five more missions! Come on. Does anyone really believe that this company can land 11 cargo capsules, three rovers and a crewed capsule by 2023, and the first by 2016! No way, even if they get $6 billion in funding. I really can't take this crowd seriously.
Jay ChladekI think the Gemini derived Eclipse project has a better chance of going off than this and THAT project I am very skeptical about.
daboltonHow could they precision land those so close together and if so wouldn't they burn the vehicle they land next too. Unless they are planning a way to tow the capsules into position after landing farther away the the habitat.
David CI noticed a guy on another website commenting that he considered that it was a scam. I felt he was being cynical. Thinking about it a bit more, maybe he's right.
Robert Pearlman
Originally posted by Ross:
Only two nations have ever landed a spacecraft on another planet.
Just a point of fact: people and companies built the spacecraft that landed on Mars, not countries. And before they did, they didn't have any experience doing so either. And they didn't have the benefit of learning from those who have.

So I wouldn't write off SpaceX, or any other company, if well-enough funded, from pulling off a 10-year development of a Mars capable craft.

That said, I am in no way saying that Mars One fits that bill. Literally, they haven't the money to launch the engineering effort, let alone the missions they plan...

johntosullivanI just listened to Bas Lansdorp of Mars One on The Space Show and he's claiming that he will have a rover on Mars and a relay comms satellite in orbit of Mars in 2016.

How are people like this given the oxygen of publicity? In any other industry, they would be laughed off the stage.

TykeanautAside from any technological problems the human aspect is something few appear to consider fully?
TykeanautI wouldn't want to be "holed-up" in an Apollo type command module for the length of time it takes to get to Mars. Forgive my ignorance if this is wrong, as perhaps a larger craft is being envisaged?
Robert Pearlman
Originally posted by johntosullivan:
...he will have a rover on Mars and a relay comms satellite in orbit of Mars in 2016.
Per today's announcement, the orbiter and rover are now being targeted for 2018.

COR482932I think it is important to realise that in order to land a man on the Moon in the 1960s, NASA had to fly 6 Mercury flights, 10 Gemini flights and 4 Apollo flights in order to make the first manned landing. Each one of these 20 flights were critically important in allowing everyone involved to learn new techniques and improve on mistakes made.

I just feel that with the Mars One organisation setting a goal of landing humans on Mars by 2023 and every two years after that, that it is an goal which simply needs more time to be thought out properly to ensure that they don't rush into anything that may ultimately end up costing someone their life. To me it's kind of like if NASA launched a manned lunar mission as their very first flight, with no previous missions under their belt, without testing other systems and flight hardware and software. Besides, $6 billion is a lot of money!

I'm all for going to Mars, it would be a dream come true. I'm showing my youth here by telling everyone that I wouldn't even be born for another 24 years after Gene Cernan left his last footprint on the lunar surface. What I'm saying is that I've never seen humans go beyond low-Earth orbit during my lifetime, which makes me kinda sad. I can't imagine how the Moonwalkers feel about no one following in their footsteps.

Anyone else think Mars One should attempt some landings on a place like the Moon to get some sort of understanding as to how their overall systems operate? The Moon is a lot closer to us than Mars let's put it that way!

I just think they're moving too fast.

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