I remain a major skeptic for this project. I see that the press conference was very poorly attended and just a small point - the name plates appeared to be hand-written which gives an immediately amateurish touch. I rather doubt that these fine folk have the financial and technical horsepower needed to pull it off.
Mores the pity...
You're not the only one. One of MarsOne's representatives (Marieke Wagensveld - member of the MarsOne PR team) gave a presentation last saturday at the Aviodrome aerospace museum in the Netherlands.
Let's just say that I was less than impressed. I took some notes and will copy them in here. Notes are in random order. And I'll be excused in advance if most of those notes were known already:
- First four people to Mars will cost $ 6 billion.
- 2023: First four people on Mars, one way mission: no return to Earth
- The founders of the MarsOne initiative apparently brainstormed over this idea for the last 15 (!) years. But this idea is not new. NASA floated the very concept back in the early 1990's.
- 2011/2012: MarsOne project start.
- Mission plan: fly multiple (
supply missions first between 2016 and 2022. This includes landers, 2 rovers, a habitat modules and an orbital communications satellite.
- The rovers must assemble the habitat modules into one large habitat (basically: dock the Dragon-derived landers ('pods') to each other).
- The habitat pods will eventually be buried under 5 meters of Mars sand to protect them - and the astronauts - from radiation.
- MarsOne has multiple advisors coming from both NASA and the aerospace industry.
- A lot of research will be needed to establish the technical feasibility of the MarsOne proposal
(What!? They haven't done that yet?)
- To make the project financially viable an enormous media campaign needs to be initiated.
- The MarsOne project does not believe in government-funding. Clear goal is to let the market do all the money-making.
- Subsequent crew missions (after the first one) will cost US$ 4 billion each.
- Crew on Mars must 'live off the land' to the furthest extend possible.
- First crew: two male, two female
- First crews are discouraged from propagating (Yes, someone actually asked them that question) because the risks of such action is unknown.
- Travel time to Mars is 8 months.
- Crew selection process exists of several rounds. Round 1 had recently begun.
- Over 30,000 applications in the first week of round 1 alone.
- Purposes of MarsOne: create a mini-civilization (colonization) on Mars and do lot's of research.
- Media exposure for the project must generate a substantial amount of the money needed to make it happen. The money generated by the media exposure for the 2012 Olympic Games is used as an example.
- MarsOne seriously expects that media exposure will be able to raise the US$ 6 billion needed for the first mission.
- There will be no maximum age for astronaut applicants. At least, not in the first round of selection. There is a minimum age of 18 years.
- Identified risk: after a successfull first mission the public's attention might fade away, much like happened to Apollo after Apollo 11. Mars One acknowledges that could, in worst case scenario, leave the project unable to send re-supplies after the first four astronauts have landed on the Red Planet.
- Religion has no role in the MarsOne project (yes, someone actually asked them that question).
The above is as far as the content of the presentation is concerned. Below you'll find my personal impressions:
- The presentation was messy and ill-prepared. Bad thing for a PR officer.
- The entire project looks highly unrealisitic IMO.
- Very little technical details were given. Upon my asking the MarsOne representative had to admit that almost none of the details have been figured out; as indicated by the fact that a basic technical feasibility study has yet to be performed.