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Rocky View Publishing reporter not sure about Mars One mission

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 06:00 am

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Space, the final frontier. An interesting idea but I have my reservations about the whole thing. Take for example the mission to establish a permanent settlement on Mars; aside from ethical questions about whether humans have the right to take over another planet because we have over populated and over polluted our own planet, how much do we really know about this mission?

For example one might assume a mission to Mars is being run by space exploration experts like NASA, but you know what they say about assumptions. Turns out the mission is the baby of a Dutch not-for-profit known as Mars One, the mother company of another not-for-profit organization known as Interplanetary Media Group. Now, if you’re anything like me at this point you’re saying to yourself, “Huh? What does a not-for-profit group know about space travel?”

The answer may surprise you.

Mars One was establishing in 2011 when a group of like-minded people came together to come up with a plan to get people to the red planet. Bas Lansdorp, Mars One co-founder and CEO, is an entrepreneur with a masters of science in mechanical engineering, which he earned from Twente University in 2003. In 2008, he founded Ampyx Power and developed a new method of generating wind energy. In 2011, he sold his majority interest in the company to help launch Mars One.

Arno Wielders, co-founder and chief technical officer, has a masters in physics from the Free University of Amsterdam, which he received in 1997. Unlike Lansdorp, Wielders has some experience with space technologies and was involved with the Ozone Monitoring Instrument project launched by NASA. He also established Space Horizon and investigated the concept of a suborbital spaceport on the Dutch island of Curacao.

The group also has a long list of advisors from around the world with a varied background in space science.

The team appears to have at least some major players that have experience with space technologies and aerospace research but we have to remember these experts aren’t the ones Mars One is sending to the red planet, they are leaving that up to the layman.

In April 2013, the group announced the planned mission and began the search for astronauts. The application process was open to anyone who could fill out the online application. True, there are subsequent rounds of procedures to select the final 24 people who will be sent to years of training for the trip to Mars, but still these are just your average Joes.

Once selected these explorers will begin training in 2015 and a team of four will man the first mission set to launch in 2024. The trip to Mars will take 210 days and there is no way these astronauts will ever come back to Earth.

When landed the crew will have to first acclimatize to gravity again after being without if for close to seven months, this will take up to 48 hours. Once recovered the crew then gets to spend a few weeks in two living units — inflatable living sections complete with airlocks used by the astronauts when they are leaving the sealed, habitable settlement. If you are thinking luxury accommodations, you’d be wrong.

The Mars habitat will be a modular system and will comprise about 1,000 metres cubed in total living space, which works out to about 250 metres cubed of space per person. I hope you like your neighbours.

If you’re having a rough day and want a break from your team, you get to suit up in the Mars suit similar to the cumbersome Apollo suits used on the moon before venturing out of the habitat because the Mars environment has extreme temperatures, very thin, non-breathable atmosphere, and otherwise harmful radiation. Doesn’t that sound relaxing?

Even though I’m still not sold, it seems a lot of people are. When the mission was announced in 2013 more than 78,000 had registered within two weeks. I wish them all the best but you’re not likely to ever see this reporter blasting off to space.


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