While complex, the Mars One Mission is feasible. The science and technology required to place humans on Mars exists today. Much of what was learned from Skylab, Mir and the International Space Station has resulted in vital data, experiences with systems and related know-how -- all of which are applicable to living on Mars.
Mars One is not the first organization to ponder upon the idea of a manned mission to Mars. Blueprints of a Mars human settlement are flung across much of history-- from science fiction books to dossiers of national space agencies. And yet, no human has landed on Mars to this day. Why should Mars One succeed?
The Mars One mission plan is based on five pillars that ensure its practicality and success.
Permanent settlementThe Mars One crews are people that want to settle on Mars. Absence of a return mission reduces the mission infrastructure radically. Earth return vehicles that can take off from Mars are currently unavailable and untested technologies and such mission designs incur far greater costs.
For the astronauts, Mars will be a new home, where they will live and work. While this may seem unreasonable to some, others have no greater ambition in their life. Such dedicated settlers will be chosen by Mars One as their crews.
Use of In-Situ ResourcesBasic elements required for a viable living system are already present on Mars. Thus we need to send more tools and equipment rather than raw elements. For example, the location for the first Mars One settlement is selected for the water ice content of the soil there. Water can be made available to the settlement for hygiene, drinking and farming. It is also the source of oxygen generated through electrolysis. Mars also has ample natural sources of nitrogen, the primary element (80%) in the air we breathe. Martian soil will cover the outpost to block cosmic radiation.
The astronauts will soon be able to create habitation for themselves and new crews using local materials soon after they arrive. For a long time, the supply requests from the outpost will be for computers, clothing and complex spare parts, which cannot be readily reproduced with the limited technology on Mars.
Solar panelsThe Sun is a reliable, robust and plentiful energy source. Using solar panels is the best choice for Mars One as it takes away the requirement to develop and launch a nuclear reactor, thereby saving time and money while avoiding the risks and concerns for use of a nuclear power source.
Thin film solar (photovoltaic) panels will power the Mars One settlement. These are less efficient than those more commonly used in aerospace, but have the advantage of being extremely light, thus easily transported. The first settlement will install approximately 3000 square meters of power generating surface area.
No new major developments or inventions are needed to make the mission plan a reality. Each stage of Mars One mission plan employs existing, validated and available technology.
Components that make the mission plan will be made exclusively by existing suppliers. Mars One has received confirmation of this from all major suppliers through letters of interest. While most of the components required are not immediately available with the exact specifications, at this time, there is no need for radical modifications to the current component designs. All suppliers have confirmed their ability to build what is required-- and they can do so now.
Every effort was made to design the mission with as little complexity as possible.
- The choice to send permanent settlers removes the need for a heavy lift launch vehicle, which does not currently exist
- Permanent settlement makes the landing module small enough to land with current technology
- Advanced pressurized rover will not be sent to Mars until large enough rockets exist
- No water recycling in the Transit Habitat because the trip to Mars takes only 210 days. Instead all required water is stored in tanks that also function as radiation shielding
- Storage of waste that is not easily recycled until more technology is available in the settlement
International yet a-political
Mars One is a non-governmental company and is apolitical in its function. Suppliers are chosen on a balance of price and quality, not through political or national preferences.
The astronaut selection process will engage tens, even hundreds of thousands of applicants from different countries worldwide. Each team selected for settlement on Mars will be comprised of four people, each from a different nation on Earth. From start to finish, from Earth to Mars, Mars One is dedicated to an international, intergenerational effort to take the human species to its next home planet.