Dutch Foundation Invests In Mars Colony

By Frank Morring, Jr.
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

Mars One has baselined as payloads on the unmanned lander, an in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) experiment and a test of thin-film solar arrays for future human missions. Once the spacecraft concept studies are complete, the Mars One foundation will issue a call for proposals to build the experiments, Lansdorp says. The ISRU experiment would use a robotic arm to scoop nearby soil and attempt to extract liquid water from it. The thin-film array, possibly extended from the lander's top deck on inflatable tubes, would provide extra power for the lander in addition to the arrays based on Phoenix technology (see illustration, page 25).

“This is just our first artist's impression of what it will be, depending on the findings from Lockheed Martin on how much space we have available,” says Lansdorp. “It might be bigger; it might be smaller; it might be a lot smaller so we will have to wait for those results before we can open the proposals [for competition]. But we hope it will be as large as possible, because additional power will prolong the lifetime and add capabilities.”

Like the overhead direct-data link through the Surrey satellite, the technology experiments will be intended to support long-term plans to settle humans on Mars, four at a time, in habitats that can be extended with the arrival of a new mission with each planetary launch window. Under current plans, the first Mars crew would land in 2025, Lansdorp says. However, that date already has slipped by one 26-month launch window, as has the initial robotic landing announced Dec. 10.

Overall, the project organizers expect the first landing of a four-person habitat will cost about $6 billion. In addition to their sponsorship plans, merchandizing the usual online T-shirts and other collectables, and small crowdsourced contributions, the foundation has a for-profit subsidiary that can market the rights to a video feed of human activities on Mars. Lansdorp notes that the Olympic Games have been pulling down $4 billion from television rights in recent years.

In addition to the student experiments and technology demonstrations, the door is open for suggestions of other payloads that could ride to Mars on the lander, Lansdorp says.

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