Road Map to Mars
In a year that has already seen announcement of plans to mine asteroids, the first privately funded spacecraft docking with the ISS, and engine testing on the Skylon project, plans for an even more ambitious project have emerged.
The Mars One program has announced a thorough road map detailing its plan to establish a human colony on the surface of the Red Planet by 2023.
How will this be paid for? They plan to turn the Mars One project into the largest media event ever by coupling the astronaut selection and training process to a reality TV show!
You can read their plan, but here is a summary:
- 2013: Mars One will build a replica of the Mars station on Earth for astronauts to train in. Astronaut selection process begins.
- 2014: Preparation for the Mars supply missions and communications satellite begin.
- 2016: The first supply mission will reach Mars, carrying food and other necessities for the future inhabitants.
- 2018: A rover will be sent to determine the best place for the settlement.
- 2021: The parts, supplies and major modules reach Mars, awaiting assembly by the first astronauts
- 2022: Water, oxygen and atmosphere production ready. The first settlers blast off from Earth on their voyage to Mars
- 2023: History is made as the first astronauts land on Mars, and link the settlement modules together and become the first extra-terrestrial settlers.
- 2025: The second group of inhabitants land. The occupancy of the Mars settlement is expected to reach between 20-40 people.
Such ambitious plans as this have usually fallen at one of the first two hurdles: funding and technology. However as we have seen with SpaceX, private firms have a great capacity for cash sourcing, and with the plan to turn the whole thing into a worldwide media event, Mars One might be well on their way to purchasing everything they need.
Technology wise, they have been very clever, and designed their whole plan around things which already exist and can be bought. In fact, all the landers and launchers are hoped to be supplied by SpaceX. This is great because it means that part of the money Mars One will be spending to explore space, will be spent by a company trying to explore space! This is exactly what we need for the space industry to flourish.
I really hope that this project gets going. They face some major hurdles - cosmic radiation poses a major problem for interplanetary voyages - but I’ll be waiting with bated breath to see how far this thing gets.
Good luck, Mars One!