We all have a dream. Are we all going to pursue this dream? Some will. Most won’t. Bas Landorp is a Dutch entrepreneur who has been working on sending the first human mission to Mars. In just 4 years he has galvanised investors, scientists and millions of curious fans to make this dream come true. We were eager to learn more about the genesis of Mars One, the recruitment of its candidates and the future steps of the project. Bas Landorp told us the story.
- 107 countries are represented in the shorlist.
- 45% men
- 55 % women
- The oldest participant is 81 years old
- The youngest participant is 18 years old
- The first humans to colonize Mars : 2024
What gave you the idea of organising a one-way trip to Mars?
The idea came a long time ago, in 1998 to be specific. At that time, I was still studying and knew that, as a Dutch citizen, I would not be able to enlist with NASA. Therefore, the only way to realize my dream was to organize my own mission. That is how, very naively, I started my project 4 years ago. I first had to find a way to finance such a mission. Once I got it, I sold my shares from my previous company and officially started the Mars One project.
“THERE IS NO BIGGER CHALLENGE THAN SENDING A CREW TO MARS”
You have been looking for the ideal candidates for a few months now, and training will last almost a decade. What are the main selection criteria?
At NASA, astronauts are always selected for the most difficult part of their specific job. That is why you have engineers, pilots and scientists leaving on the same mission. The Mars One project is not about engineering or medicine. Sure these skills are very important, but theoretically, we can teach them to anyone with “a good brain”. Our main challenge is to find a crew of four people who are all willing to leave everything behind and make history! The Mars One project is, according to me, the ultimate team challenge. Sure, we will, during the ten years of training you mentioned, teach them all they need to know to make the mission a success.
Once selected, how will the candidates be trained?
Preparation is actually the most important part of our process and I think that selecting and training our candidates is a bigger challenge for Mars than the finance process or the technology of our mission. The final candidates will have to overcome never seen before challenges: their survival on Mars will depend on each other’s willingness to cooperate and live as one. To train them, we will lock the teams up for an undetermined period of time, on a copy of the Mars outpost on Earth. Actually, they won’t know how long this training period will last: could be three days or 5 years. Therefore, we will be able to observe them in everyday life situations and make sure they can work as team.
Out of 1.058 shortlist participants: The youngest participant is 18 years old
Is a 6 billion dollar-funding enough for such a complex mission? How does the donation system work?
We estimate the cost of our mission to be about 6 billion US dollars which is obviously a lot of money. Yet, a lot of people still question if that will be enough. What people tend to forget is that the Mars One project cannot be compared to the NASA missions to Mars. To compare, the lowest cost figure that I have seen for a NASA mission to Mars was 65 billion US dollars. The main difference is that Mars One is a permanent settlement mission, a one way trip. We won’t be bringing our astronauts back. In this respect, we don’t have to develop bigger rockets, don’t have to develop new landing systems and don’t have to develop the capability of launching people from Mars back to Earth, the latter being the bigger challenge for NASA.
This mission will be funded through a number of different revenue streams, the most important being investors coming on board, if I may say, because they believe that our revenue model can give them a good return on investment. Part of the revenue stream is also donations, coming from all over the world. Donations were actually initiated by people, we did not ask for anything! People support us and believe in our mission. Every step we take is leading us in the right direction and we hope to land our first unmanned mission in 2020.
Can there be a delay in the planned timing for the mission? If so, what would be the consequences?
Going to Mars is immensely ambitious and difficult, I don’t even think that there is a bigger challenge you can take on. There is actually a huge “risk” of delay. What we present here is an ideal situation if we have all the finance in place in the right time, if no significant technology problems occur, etc. For example, 5 to 10% of all rocket launchers go wrong to some extent: there is either an explosion, which is a very serious problem of course, or the satellite just enters into the wrong orbit. Many things can happen on the way to Mars but all the stakeholders, investors, partners and candidates are aware of it, yet, we still are convinced that we are moving the right direction. Actually I think, we would all be surprised if we were to stay on schedule. What’s most important for us is to progress step by step.
Elon Musk suggests to terraform mars by nuking it
Popular Science / Mashable extracts «The billionaire supervillain clarified his idea to terraform Mars. He doesn’t want to bomb Mars. He just wants to bomb the sky above Mars every few seconds. «What I was talking about,» said Musk, «was having a series of very large, by our standards, but very small by calamity standards – essentially having two tiny pulsing suns over the poles.” […] Musk says that the two “tiny suns,” formed by fusion bombs, would warm up Mars’ frozen carbon dioxide so that it turns into gas that could help capture heat, creating a greenhouse effect on Mars. »
C’est le nom du compte twitter @SarcasticRover créé par Jason Filiatrault, scénariste canadien, pour exprimer les pensées du rover Mars Curiosity, mêlant commentaires d’images de la NASA et blagues de l’auteur. Parmi les perles recensées « Is there life on Mars? There is no life on Mars. Trust me. I’m here, and I have no life ». Egalement «With the discovery of salt water on Mars, the probability of Martian-Shark attacks just went up, like 9000%. » ou encore son tweet Future elections on Mars, ci-dessus.