Mars One Founder Explains How He’s Planning To Prepare Red Planet For Humanity At SXSW

Mars One Founder Explains How He’s Planning To Prepare Red Planet For Humanity At SXSW

If Mars One, the private enterprise to send humans on a one-way trip to Mars, could just successfully land something on the red planet, then the dominoes would start falling according to  Mars One founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp.

The entrepreneur gave a presentation at SXSW recently about how Mars One is planning to land hardware on Mars to not only pinpoint where the outpost should be constructed, but to start the processes so it can support human life as well.

“Right now we’re a small team of people. We’ve never sent something to mars. The only entity that has landed something on Mars is NASA. They've had seven successful landings — we zero,” Lansdorp said. “If we can be the first private entity, the first not-nasa to land something on Mars successfully, than we will be established. And that’ll make everything after that a lot less complex.”

Lansdorp said that the first preparatory mission will leave Earth in 2020. An unmanned, static platform, it will demonstrate some of the technologies necessary for supporting human life, like extracting water from the martian soil or testing the thin film solar panels.

“All these steps are possible with existing components,” said Lansdorp. “Now, that doesn’t mean that aerospace suppliers have these systems laying around, but what it means that we don’t need any new inventions to make it happen. A lot of engineering on design, testing, iterations —but no inventions are needed to make this mission happen.

In 2022 however, Mars One is planning on sending a rover that will determine the exact location of the outpost, ensuring that there’s enough water in the soil and that the area is flat enough to support construction. Mars One plans to send all the hardware, but not humans, in 2024. This includes two life support units, two living units, a supply unit and a second rover.

The two rovers will then move all the equipment to the location of the outpost and activate the life support systems. Water will start being produced and stored in liquid form, a breathable atmosphere will be created from the oxygen in water and the nitrogen from Mars's atmosphere, and a habitable outpost should be waiting for the first group when they arrive.

The first crew, or the mission crew, will be sent to a “small little space station” in Earth orbit in 2026, where they’ll have to decide to push a metaphorical “big red button” that starts the rocket, said Lansdorp. This space station will consist of propellant tanks, transit habitats and the lander module.

“Of course, it’s not actually going to be a big red button — that’s only in movies — but mentally it really is going to be a big red button,” Lansdorp said. “Because the moment they start the rocket engine, there is no return. The moment they start the engine, they leave their friends and family forever, Earth forever, and that is a really big decision to make.”

After seven months of travel time, the first crew will land on the surface close to the vicinity of the outpost and install the solar panels and greenhouse equipment so they can grow food. A few weeks later, they will also need to install the hardware sent for the second crew. The second crew will arrive in 2028 with the hardware of the third crew.

Lansdorp says no new inventions are needed to make all the Mars One missions possible. He said Mars One plans to finance the expedition by broadcasting the crew training and donations.

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