The colonization of Mars

| Michaela Nesvarova

Lecture titled ´The colonization of Mars´ was held today at the University of Twente, given by UT alumni Bas Lansdorp, who is the CEO and a co-founder of Mars One. Lansdorp talked about Mars One organization and its planned space mission that should establish the first human settlement on Mars.

Mars One is a Dutch company that has put together plans for a private spaceflight project, which should result in a permanent human colony on Mars. Mars One´s current plans include sending four carefully selected candidates to Mars in the year 2024 and documenting their entire journey in a form of TV reality show.

How is it possible?

Lansdorp first explained how a relatively small company can organize such an ambitious project. ´We have taken a different approach than space agencies. We intend to use only already existing technology, not work on new inventions. And all the technology we need for this mission is already available, ´ began Lansdorp. However, the main reason why the mission is feasible is simple: it´s a one-way trip. People, who will be sent to Mars, will literally stay there forever.

What needs to be done first?

Before first people arrive to Mars, many things need to be tested and prepared. First unmanned mission is planned for 2018. This mission will not only demonstrate the technology, such as extraction of water or the use of solar panels, but also the entire Mars One. It will show how the whole project can or cannot work.

In 2020 a rover is scheduled to determine the best location for the outpost. All hardware will arrive to Mars and rovers will put all equipment to place as a preparation for the human mission. As of that moment, oxygen and water will be generated, getting the environment ready for people.

When will people come to Mars?

Finally, in 2024 the first human crew - consisting of 4 people – should land on Mars. ´I believe that will be the most exciting moment in the history of mankind, ´ said Lansdorp. This first crew will start preparing everything for the arrival of second group, which should join them after two years.

Who to bring?

One of the most important issues regarding Mars One is the crew. How to find people who can pull off the difficult task of living on another planet? Mars One received over 200.000 applications from people all over the world. The right candidates should be smart and healthy people, who are able to work well in a team. ´Teamwork is the most important skill they need to have. We can teach them everything else, ´ said Lansdorp.

To make sure the chosen individuals can manage living on Mars, they will be trained in an exact model of the outpost that will be later built on Mars. They will be locked in the outpost for undefined periods of time and given different challenges.

How much will this cost?

All of this sounds truly remarkable, but also demanding in every way. Many people are surely wondering: how much will this cost? According to Lansdorp, the first part of the mission up to sending the first humans to Mars should cost about 7 billion USD. ´This may sound like a lot of money, but we should realize that the value of this mission is much higher, ´explained Lansdorp. ´We estimate the value to be about 20-40 billion USD. Not to mention that the biggest value of this project is the story we will create. Establishing a colony on another planet is a huge step for our species.´


Why is it important to establish a human colony on Mars? ´Besides the technology spin-off, I believe it´s an inspiration and a huge accomplishment, ´ answered Lansdorp. ´Humans are explorers and we have always explored how far can technology take us. Also, I believe that such a big common goal can bring humanity closer together.´

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