Mars One To Build Simulated Colony For One-Way Astronauts

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People selected to live on the Red Planet will train inside an earthbound outpost. If they don't go crazy, they just might make the real trip.

Creating a permanent human settlement on Mars by 2025 will require serious training. To prepare its future astronauts for the task, the Netherlands-based private spaceflight project Mars One announced today its plans to construct Earth-based outposts that replicate the cramped, isolated, crazy-making conditions of a Red Planet colony.

In an email statement this morning, Mars One also named Kristian von Bengston—co-founder ofCopenhagen Suborbitals, a private effort to build and launch a crewed suborbital rocket—as leader of the new effort to establish multiple training outposts at yet-to-be-determined locations. For now Von Bengston is seeking out construction companies and courting financial sponsors. The first simulated colonies won't contain actual life-support systems, at least to begin with, but they will be retrofitted with the technology later on, according to the statement.

More than 200,000 people applied for the one-way mission. Late last year, Mars One narrowed the selection pool to 1,058. Their ultimate goal: select 24 to 40 candidates who will travel to Mars in groups of four (two men and two women, ideally from four different continents, says CEO Bas Lansdorp). Mars One wants to send the first group in 2025, with the subsequent crews launching one at a time, every two years thereafter. The organization intends to televise the final rounds of the search. 

Written By: Rose Pastore
continue to source article at popsci.com

29 COMMENTS

  1. I never understood why we don’t recruit the best suited candidates for things like this, and it’s not pilots. Submariners are the ones most used to confined spaces for weeks on end; they’ve already proven they have an affinity for it. But if we ever manage to do this, we will once again get folks who prefer to soar in the open sky. Makes no sense.

    • In reply to #1 by Daryl:

      I never understood why we don’t recruit the best suited candidates for things like this, and it’s not pilots. Submariners are the ones most used to confined spaces for weeks on end; they’ve already proven they have an affinity for it. But if we ever manage to do this, we will once again get folks who prefer to soar in the open sky. Makes no sense.

      In the early years of the space program test pilots were used because they had the balls to try. At the time test pilot schools in USA where loosing a pilot a month test high performance aircraft. Those that were selected for space programs were very capable of gaining control back in situations which were emergencies and this was proven useful again and again in the early space program with any number of emergencies averted by quick thinking and cool calculated pilots. Apollo 13 is a good example of this. Now where things are more reliable many more of the crews come from backgrounds that have nothing to do with piloting skill sets. And crew composition seems to me at least to match this. I would think those that pilot the craft will likely need to be ….. pilots. Others could come from any walk of life.

    • In reply to #1 by Daryl:

      I never understood why we don’t recruit the best suited candidates for things like this, and it’s not pilots. Submariners are the ones most used to confined spaces for weeks on end; they’ve already proven they have an affinity for it. But if we ever manage to do this, we will once again get folks wh…

      I think the most suitable people for a 1 way ticket to Mars are the entire political class … but that’s just me.

  2. Not sure why you don’t think they are going to recruit the best suited candidates for this mission. As one of the remaining 889 candidates for this Mars One mission, I think I am one such candidate. I enjoy hearing about the progress Mars One is making toward achieving this goal. I look forward to beginning the full-time training in 2016. I may enjoy the open skies, but that doesn’t mean I am not capable of making this mission a success.

    Live a good life,

    masubi

    • In reply to #2 by masubi:

      Not sure why you don’t think they are going to recruit the best suited candidates for this mission. As one of the remaining 889 candidates for this Mars One mission, I think I am one such candidate. I enjoy hearing about the progress Mars One is making toward achieving this goal. I look forward to b…

      Well said and good luck. If we had to rely on the people who are against it we’d all still be sitting under a tree in African looking for berries. I like Daryl’s idea of New Yorkers but it’s a fairly limited group.

      I think the organisers should be able to manage to choose a few from 6 billion who are willing to die off planet without jeopardizing the mission. I like those odds. Just watch out for those monsters.

      Masubi, I’m not sure if it was you I heard on a podcast discussing the trip. Whoever it was was truly inspiring, I would be happy to have him as my travel companion and others like him.

    • In reply to #2 by masubi:

      Not sure why you don’t think they are going to recruit the best suited candidates for this mission. As one of the remaining 889 candidates for this Mars One mission, I think I am one such candidate. I enjoy hearing about the progress Mars One is making toward achieving this goal. I look forward to b…

      Wow, did you seriously apply for this?

    • In reply to #2 by masubi:

      Not sure why you don’t think they are going to recruit the best suited candidates for this mission.

      My view is that the “best candidates”, would have sufficient understanding of the challenges, to recognise the severe short-comings of this particular project.

      As one of the remaining 889 candidates for this Mars One mission, I think I am one such candidate. I enjoy hearing about the progress Mars One is making toward achieving this goal. I look forward to beginning the full-time training in 2016. I may enjoy the open skies, but that doesn’t mean I am not capable of making this mission a success.

      If you are capable of making a Mars landing a success, you deserve a project with better funding, planning, and prospects, than this one.

  3. I’m quite amazed that this project does still exist. Look, it has nothing to do with science or exploration of space. This famous (or infamous) selection process has nothing to do with finding the right candidates. This is one big reality show. Nothing more nothing less. Some of these candidates might perhaps delude themselves into thinking they are a part of this great expedition in the name of science and human progress. But, it’s all just a spectacle.

    Honestly, I really don’t understand what sane person would put his/her life in the hands of an organization in such a complete and absolute way. Especially since we are talking about an organization with no former experience of anything of even a remotely similar magnitude. It really does not have any experience of anything. Yes, it has an advisory board with some experienced people on it but that’s about it. They claim they are a non-profit organization but who really knows. Frankly, quite little is know about this organization. I mean, we are talking about a project that will encompass more than half a century and cost billions of dollars. Arguably the most difficult project in the history of mankind. And we entrust an organization with no former experience and no real ties with any governmental bodies with that mission?

    Yes, it will initially spark great interest… but what will happen after a few years? Or twenty years after they’ll arrive on Mars? The interest in the moon landings only lasted a few years. Most people actually believe we have only landed once on the moon, when the actual number is six. But, few cared about the latter missions. The same thing will happen with this mission. It will as said gather a massive amount of interest for a few years, but then the public interest will slowly fade away. Since, the mission will not really have any real scientific value I wonder who will be interested in these people ten years after they have landed on Mars? And, a more important question. Who will take responsibility if something goes wrong? Can this organization make sure they are able to help these people for the rest of their lives? What are they even going to do on this planet for so many years? Will the organization even exist decades after the initial launching? I mean, there are so many question marks that the whole project seems like complete lunacy.

    On the other hand I don’t think these people really have to worry. The chance of this project being able to actually launch a space rocket to Mars is close to zero. Who do they think wants to pay all the billions of dollars they need to complete a mission like this? I mean, it’s not just one team they are planning to send to Mars. But, several teams with an interval of a few years. It’s just insanity! And I think it’s fortunate for all the youngsters who have applied that this mission will never see the light of day (or perhaps the darkness of space is a better saying). They would most likely die horrible deaths before they even reached Mars or be stranded and left to their own devices… In fact, I don’t think this organization has ever been serious about sending people to Mars. Not really dead serious.

  4. In reply to #2 by masubi:

    Not sure why you don’t think they are going to recruit the best suited candidates for this mission.

    I think Daryl’s point was that they shouldn’t be recruiting people from the USAF the way NASA did. I was going to reply with a different comment. I actually started to write “If the mission on Mars was just to survive then you would have a point but…” and then I had to stop because the next bit should have been “since the mission is X” but the more I thought about it the more I realized that Daryl actually does have a good point, since there is no actual scientific reason to send these people they may as well pick the people who are used to doing totally useless long missions in small confined spaces and you couldn’t find a better group than the people who man our never used fleet of insanely expensive nuclear submarines.

  5. This is a publicity seeking gimmick which has nothing to offer except the potential to kill a few people, and contaminate a pristine planet using, a poorly thought out project with a few amateurish mugs to play a space version of “Big Brother”!
    It will probably get its publicity and then fizzle out while firmly rooted on Earth!

  6. What is the purpose of such an endeavor? There was no mention of the value this colony would provide, so I suspect that it would be difficult to fund a multi-billion dollar project such as this. The only exception I can think of is a colony comprised mainly of geologists and astrobiologists, searching for evidence of past life. One other exception would be protecting the human race from a life destroying comet or asteroid; but in that case, send scientists anyway.

  7. So, somebody thought, “Man, reality TV shows are making billions now…I wonder what I could do to get in on THAT market!? I know! I’ll make up a project that will pretend it is going to land humans on Mars! Everybody would watch that.” Or, is it possible that human exploration of Mars missions have been on and off the drawing boards ever since the 60′s and 70′s, but they always had two huge challenges: 1) getting the people back, and 2) paying for such a mission? And now someone has decided to 1) make the bold move to eliminate the return trip, thereby reducing the costs by 80% (which has been suggested in recent papers), and 2) figured out a way to pay for it.

    I do not understand from where all the negativity comes concerning this mission. This is possible. There is scientific reason to do it. Others may think this is a way to get that reality TV stardom, but I am not one of them. When I hear this negativity, I think back to 1961 and 1962 when JFK declared we were going to land man on the moon. There was ZERO technology to accomplish that goal and they did it in eight years. EIGHT years, and starting from scratch. I had the privilege to participate in a six week internship with NASA last summer in Huntsville, AL, otherwise known as “Rocket City.” The Marshal Space Flight Center is there. This is where they designed, built, and tested the Saturn V rockets that lifted the Apollo astronauts to the moon. They have videos of the astronauts watching the test launches of these rockets…watching them explode into huge fireballs as they left the launch pads. I can’t imagine what they were thinking as they put their lives “in the hands of an organization in such a complete and absolute way. Especially since we are talking about an organization with no former experience of anything of even a remotely similar magnitude. It really does not have any experience of anything” (Nunbeliever). Once there were two consecutive successful launches, MSFC said, “your turn.”

    “Arguably the most difficult project in the history of mankind. And we entrust an organization with no former experience and no real ties with any governmental bodies with that mission?” (Nunbeliever). Sending humans to the moon wasn’t a difficult project? Being the most difficult project means we can’t do it? Or shouldn’t do it? Thankfully there are no governmental bodies mucking this all up. That way it isn’t dependent upon who happens to be in office at the time; dependent upon whether or not the governing body is going to approve the funds; dependent upon whether or not the mission can be accomplished within the term of the approving governmental body so as to not risk cutting of funds when the next body enters office.

    The moon landings became old news. That isn’t necessarily the bad thing people make it out to be. The awesome thing was that LANDING ON THE MOON BECAME OLD NEWS! Do you get it? We were landing humans on the moon like it was easy. Cool. But, really, why did we stop going? Dunno, exactly. Maybe because the cold war was over? Maybe because there is (really) no scientific value to gain from the moon. It really is a dead rock in space. Do you really think that people will get bored with Mars in 20 years if a thriving colony was growing there? Eventually with two way trips possible? Kids growing up knowing they were training and going to school so they could spend a year on another planet doing research? Becoming a launch pad for missions to the asteroid belt and beyond? Man…what happen to the visionaries? What happen to the people that thought up grand ideas and gathered the people together to make them happen? I don’t know. I just want to change the world, and see this as a way to do it. Call me a dreamer.

    Live a good life,

    masubi

    • In reply to #10 by masubi:

      I do not understand from where all the negativity comes concerning this mission….

      Well firstly sincerely good luck getting selected. If this is your dream then go for it.

      However I have a few concerns myself. What I do not want to find is that the rest of man-kind are left to feel obliged to support the colony long after ‘Mars One b.v.’ has gone tits up and believe me the chances of that happening are really high. After all who is really going to be funding this mission after the viewers and sponsors lose interest?

      It might sound a little harsh, and perhaps right now you would say that you are prepared to die out in space for the LOL of it, but what about the children born there? Are they also required to sign up to this folly? Or have you all agreed to be irreversibly sterilised? What have you agreed to do about those showing signs of depression or senility? After all one slip up with an airlock and the whole experiment would come to a very abrupt end.

    • In reply to #10 by masubi:

      I understand that you are a candidate and of course you believe this is possible and a great project. Otherwise you would hardly have applied, right?

      That said, what you are saying is basically nonsense.

      …but they always had two huge challenges: 1) getting the people back, and 2) paying for such a mission? And now someone has decided to 1) make the bold move to eliminate the return trip, thereby reducing the costs by 80% (which has been suggested in recent papers), and 2) figured out a way to pay for it.

      1) Do you really think this mission will be cheaper? First they have to launch several unmanned “cargo” missions with tons of equipment necessary for the crew to survive on this hostile planet, not just for a few months but for the rest of their lives. Landing on Mars is in itself a difficult task. Just getting the tiny Mars rover down in one piece was described by NASA as the most difficult landing they had ever undertaken. Landing on the moon is a child’s play in comparison to landing on Mars. Imagine how utterly difficult and expensive it will be to get tons of equipment down to the surface of Mars intact. After that they plan to send, not one but, several manned missions to Mars. Each one an astronomical undertaking in itself.

      2) Yes, paying for such a mission. Yes, they will get money from broadcasting this event. But, they need money right now… they say they are going to launch the first cargo mission in 2016. That’s in TWO years! How are they going to get all the money they need right now for research and development? According to them the first cargo flight will cost about six billion dollars. But, they have not specified if this is just the cost of the flight in itself or if they have actually included research and development costs as well. But, even if they could make it happen with six billion dollar. How are they going to get this amount of money? They need money right now! Not just pocket change, but billions of dollars. Hence, the reality show concept will not solve their financial problems. It is of no comfort that they might get billions of dollars in revenue in the future if they don’t have the money needed to get this project started in first place. I honestly, can’t see how any real sponsors would want to make such astronomical investments in a project so uncertain and with such a slim probability of success.

      I can’t imagine what they were thinking as they put their lives “in the hands of an organization in such a complete and absolute way. Especially since we are talking about an organization with no former experience of anything of even a remotely similar magnitude. It really does not have any experience of anything” (Nunbeliever).

      That just is not true. Yes, NASA was a relatively new organization when JFK announced the goal to land on the moon before the end of the 60s. Although, it had existed for three years and successfully implemented the Mercury program. But more importantly, NASA inherited all the knowledge and expertise of NACA. An organization that had done research on aeronautics for half a century. NASA had access to the most brilliant scientists and the best crews in the world. When JFK made his announcement they also had access to pretty much unlimited funding. At it’s peak the Apollo program employed 400 000 people! Take a moment and reflect upon that number. Almost half a million people working on one single project.

      A manned mission to Mars can very well be seen as a mission on par with landing on the moon in the 60s. I would argue it’s even more difficult. Many people like to point out that we landed on the moon 45 years ago. How hard can it be to go to Mars? What most people don’t understand is that most of the people who worked on the Apollo program are old men and women now. A large portion is dead. The knowledge acquired during these missions is to a large extent lost. Hence, Mars One have to sort of reinvent the wheel. Of course we have superb technology today. But, no amount of technology is enough by itself to complete a task this extreme. You need concrete experience. Not even NASA has the experience necessary. But, at least they have the organizational structure, ties with governmental bodies and experience of space flight in general that would make their efforts worth the while. Mars One, on the other hand is just a random organization few people know anything about. The could just as well make a reality show about regular people trying to cure cancer.

      I’m not the only one who is skeptical of this project. Most scientists and other professionals who know anything about space flight are very skeptical with regard to this project. My purpose is not to darken your mood. I know this project thrills you. Who knows, perhaps I am wrong and this will be the most successful undertaking in human history. Unfortunately, so far Mars One has not provided us with reasons to believe this is a serious project or that they actually have the means to achieve what they are striving for. I’m very much in favor of a manned flight to Mars. I think that would be a great achievement for humanity as a whole. But, I’m also a friend of reason and I can’t support a project (however noble it’s intentions are) that seems as irrational and bound to fail as Mars One. You can call me a pessimist if you like…

  8. I think I have said that before. If consenting adults want to do this, OK for them, no problem for me. However, I think every person going to Mars ‘forever’ should be sterilized. They have a right to do what they want with their lives. But they should never be allowed to produce babies who would be condemned to a miserable and, I presume, very short life. If they could be born at all. That would be a whole new dimension of child abuse.
    Anyway, I doubt this project will accomplish its stated objectives.

    • In reply to #13 by permafrost:

      OK for them, no problem for me. However,

      It is however a major problem for the planet and any future colonists or scientific expeditions.

      I think every person going to Mars ‘forever’ should be sterilized. They have a right to do what they want with their lives.

      Unfortunately, if they were “sterilised” so as to prevent a bunch of incompetent amateurs breaching quarantine, and contaminating Mars with Earth organisms, they would be dead meat!

      @OP- The first simulated colonies won’t contain actual life-support systems, at least to begin with, but they will be retrofitted with the technology later on, according to the statement.

      So the expensive and technically difficult scientific feasibility studies won’t actually be commenced (if ever!) until the publicity gimmicks and TV hype are well under way, using what are essentially empty boxes with a bit of Earth-tech ventilation and plumbing.

      Funny thing! – But on real space enterprises, the life support systems are an integral part of the design, testing, and developments from the earliest stages of the concepts! – with topics like the internal air pressure, power and storage requirements, determining the calculations of the structure and materials. The consequences of the rushed failure to do the basic research and planning, was well illustrated in Apollo 1.

      The researched psychological and sociological aspects of isolated small groups living together in isolation, have already been investigated on other planet-base-camp experiments and in Antarctic base science stations. – I would suspect to a much higher standard of objectivity than a “Big Brother” type of exercise is likely to produce!

  9. The current success rate of landing craft on Mars is 50%. This is by NASA who are proficient in space travel. They have had a bit of experience at it.

    Now a private company with no experience wants to try, and with people. How many modules that are needed for survival will be destroyed on landing? Probably 50% or more. How many people will die on landing before they get a successful landing? Would you want to still go if there were 2 or 3 failures before your turn?

    Just something to think about before you sign up.

  10. This mission wouldn’t be for scientific research but rather industrial mining research…There’s No way the powers that be would fund this just for science…they’d need a mega payoff to even incite them to spend our tax dollars….Look at every Sci Fi movie ever made in this genre….they all end in disaster….watch out planets – you are all fair game….the human locusts are on the move….

    • In reply to #19 by Light Wave:

      This mission wouldn’t be for scientific research but rather industrial mining research…There’s No way the powers that be would fund this just for science…they’d need a mega payoff to even incite them to spend our tax dollars….Look at every Sci Fi movie ever made in this genre….they all end i…

      Well, industrial mining in space really is a distant dream. I can’t imagine what resources would be so valuable that companies would be ready to pay billions of dollars to get very small quantities back to earth. I mean, if they don’t even bother to bring back the crew then why would they be interested in bringing back tons of Mars rocks?

      This is of course why it’s so hard to get private funding for space exploration. The financial incentive just is not there. In our day and age companies can’t even afford to look one year ahead. If the next quarterly report does not show increased revenues the investors lose interest. What investors would be interested in projects that might be fruitful sometimes in the distant future? That’s why we need governments to fund projects like these. Private investors might be helpful, but they will never be able to carry the burden of such a humongous enterprise. Governments have to pave the way before the private sector will be interested.

      • In reply to #20 by Nunbeliever:

        Well, industrial mining in space really is a distant dream. I can’t imagine what resources would be so valuable that companies would be ready to pay billions of dollars to get very small quantities back to earth.

        Platinum has been mentioned, and as for returning it to Earth, a suitable trajectory, a basic heat shield, and parachute is what is required.

        I mean, if they don’t even bother to bring back the crew then why would they be interested in bringing back tons of Mars rocks?

        I think any mining on Mars, would be for materials to use in the construction and running of bases.

        I don’t think returning stuff to Earth is the big issue. Mining asteroids and comets for materials like water to make fuel and oxygen without having to lift it off a planet, is much more viable. So is using 3D printing to manufacture orbital components from materials already in space, which can be processed by robot spacecraft, using the abundant solar energy of the inner Solar-System.

        Servicing or reconditioning old satellites -(http://ssco.gsfc.nasa.gov/robotic-servicing-mission.html) is a potentially very profitable business.

        As far as manned bases for Mars are concerned, it would make much more sense in the early stages, to put a manned base on or near Phobos from which to direct and control robot vehicles on Mars’ surface, – thus removing the long time delay inherent in signals from Earth and many of the problems in returning crews to Earth after a shift on the base.

        http://science.howstuffworks.com/asteroid-mining.htm

        http://www.planetaryresources.com/mission/

        • In reply to #21 by Alan4discussion:

          I did not think of servicing or reconditioning satellites. You are right, that would probably be a big business opportunity. Although I don’t really understand how they would benefit from space mining on Mars or other distant celestial bodies? Mining on the moon might perhaps be possible in a not too distant future (perhaps within a century). The moon is close, has basically no atmosphere and the gravitational pull is quite low. Hence, I can imagine that it would be possible to return material to earth in a cost beneficial way. Especially if we are talking about rare materials like Helium-3 or other potential energy sources. An interesting proposal I read about a while ago was to cover parts of the moon with solar panels and use lasers to transfer the energy back to earth. But, that’s a whole different subject.

          I was mainly talking about whether there are financial incentives for space mining on Mars or other distant celestial bodies. I think it’s quite clear that it’s more or less science fiction. As you said, mining on Mars would be for materials to sustain a permanent colony. But, what companies would be interested in mining for a small colony on another planet? There’s no money to be made in that.

          • In reply to #22 by Nunbeliever:

            In reply to #21 by Alan4discussion:

            I did not think of servicing or reconditioning satellites. You are right, that would probably be a big business opportunity.

            That was why I mentioned mining asteroids. Creating metal powders, resourced from asteroids, to use for 3D printing components, avoids all the costs of launching heavy materials from planetary gravity. On Earth (being liquid) most heavy metals have sunk into the core, but they are more likely to be accessible and available in quantity on solid broken asteroids. We already have examples in meteorites.

            I have linked the sort of processes which could be developed on this discussion: http://www.richarddawkins.net/news-articles/2014/4/1/the-disruptive-power-of-3d-printing#comment-box-10

            Although I don’t really understand how they would benefit from space mining on Mars or other distant celestial bodies? Mining on the moon might perhaps be possible in a not too distant future (perhaps within a century). The moon is close, has basically no atmosphere and the gravitational pull is quite low.

            The gravity is even lower on asteroids.

            Hence, I can imagine that it would be possible to return material to earth in a cost beneficial way.

            People think in terms of Earth, but the cost effective area for these developments is building space components in Earth or Solar orbit, for orbital applications, rather than paying the huge cost of launching from the surface of Earth (or Mars, or the Moon). Some high value items could be dropped to Earth.

            How NASA Will Use 3D Printers in Space (Video)

          • In reply to #23 by Alan4discussion:

            People think in terms of Earth, but the cost effective area for these developments is building space components in Earth or Solar orbit, for orbital applications, rather than paying the huge cost of launching from the surface of Earth (or Mars, or the Moon). Some high value items could be dropped to Earth.

            Yes, that is a quite interesting. It would of course be a game changer if we could build stuff in space without the need to launch the building materials through the atmosphere from earth. Imagine that we could make a large biosphere that orbits the earth. A place where thousands of people could live for prolonged periods of time. Me like :)

  11. In reply to #24 by Nunbeliever:

    In reply to #23 by Alan4discussion:

    Imagine that we could make a large biosphere that orbits the earth. A place where thousands of people could live for prolonged periods of time. Me like :)

    With either the classical 2001 A Space Odyssey rotating wheel space station or a rotating rotating truss and counter weight system, or a A Tether-Based Variable-Gravity system providing artificial gravity, and with mined water used as a surrounding radiation shield, – large stations orbiting Earth, the Moon or the Sun, could be built. – Especially if modular components were printed from space resourced materials. There is almost limitless Solar power available for an orbiting station.

    It would also make sense to have artificial gravity on the long passage of a crew going to Mars.

    There could also be centrifuge gravity systems inside or near asteroid mines. Inside mined caverns, would give radiation shielding.

  12. Wow. I really liked the direction the conversation went. That was very interesting and inspiring. See. I knew you were all a bunch of space junkies.

    Yes, I did actually apply for this. I am in the second round looking forward to the face-to-face interview coming up.

  13. Within the Sagan twenty four hour evolutionary time scale we’ve been here about four minutes, we know next to nothing about the joint, have caused havoc, but already we think we should swan off to another planet.

    “Lord, what fools these mortals be.”

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