Mars One is well on track to establish the first otherworldly colony with its plan to send settlers to Mars for a 2025 landing. You might have heard the 2023 figure until recently, when they revised their plan to allow more time to get materials and supplies into place. Considering the amount of branding that the chiefs put into a 2023 manned landing, it could be a bit before the media updates its figures if you go by some of the articles I’ve seen since the December 10th news conference. This is what the dates look like right now:
- 2018: The Demo and ComSat Mission. A demonstration of the technologies that will be used during the transit process from launch on Earth to landing on Mars, along with placing a Mars-synchronous communications satellite in orbit. The demo mission will include a lander similar to the Phoenix mission that one of Mars Ones’ newest contractors, Lockheed Martin, had a hand in creating. The lander will scout for water, demonstrate the viability of a solar panel design that has been proposed for the Mars One mission, send back streaming video via the ComSat, and include STEM and University science projects.
- 2020: Rover, Trailer and Second ComSat Mission. Initial images of the Rover resemble Curiosity on steroids, with the capability of using a trailer to tow landers to the outpost location. Before the landers arrive, the rover will scout for a suitable location that can provide both water and enough sunlight to provide power. A second ComSat will go into a solar orbit at one of the Sun-Earth LeGrangian points to enable communications when the Sun is between Earth and Mars.
- 2022: Living, Supply, and Life Support Units Launched. These units will provide essentials for the colonists that include power, water extraction for drinking and the production of oxygen, scrubbing of contaminants from the air and used water, and the collection of nitrogen and argon from the Martian atmosphere. Upon landing, the Rover will be used to move the units into position and do some initial setup that includes unrolling the thin solar panels in the life support units that have been rolled up for easy transport. The units are expected to be ready for human habitation by 2023 and the life support units are expected to have produced enough water and air to support the first crew by the time they arrive.
- 2024: Crew One Launches. A Transit Habitat and Mars Lander are launched into orbit and assembled by an assembly crew. Two propellant stages are launched a month later and connected. Once all elements are in place, the Mars One Crew launches and switches places with the assembly crew, who return to Earth. Upon checkout of all systems, the first Mars One Crew leaves for Mars on a seven-month transit route. The cargo for the second crew is launched the same month and includes four living units and four life support units.
- 2025: Crew One Lands. Crew One enters the landing module and arrives on Mars. It is expected that the crew will spend a few days acclimatizing to the Martian gravity, after which they complete the setup of the outpost by installing hallways between the units and setting up food production units. The Cargo for the second crew lands a few weeks later and is installed to be used as a backup for the first crew until the second crew arrives.
- 2026: Crew Two Launches. The second crew departs from Earth and takes an eight-month trip to Mars. They will land in 2027 along with the units for the third crew. Crews of four are expected to launch every two years thereafter.
So, who would be crazy enough to sign up for a plan that can shift so easily? Yeah, I expect to hear that too. However, I like seeing that Mars One is flexible enough to adjust the plan to match the reality that it takes time to go through the concept studies that they are running an Indigogo campaign to pay for right now, create and test the technology involved, train the crews and get them to Mars safely.
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