Mars One - Can They Get it Done?

MIT Engineering Students Shred Mars One Mission Plans

On August 13, at the 18th Annual Mars Society Convention in Washington, DC, a debate was held on the feasibility on the popularized Mars One one way settlement plan to the red planet. Two MIT students, who had previously attacked the viability of the plan in 2014, faced off against Mars One CEO Bas Landorp and Paragon Space Chief Engineer Barry Finger. The students, Sydney Do and Andrew Owens, came armed with charts, graphs, and data, all neatly presented in a killer PowerPoint presentation.

And killer it was.

In case you're not familiar with Mars One, Do and Owens summed up the basics of the company's project in one slide:

Mars One Project Summary

Mars One likes to point to the Apollo moon program as evidence that its mission plan will work. Lansdorp often reminds everyone that President John Kennedy knew NASA didn't have a plan when he charged it to land a man on the moon before 1970. NASA pulled it off in only eight years.

But the MIT team immediately crushed that argument by doing their own comparison. Mars One believes they can complete the first landing of their program for $6 Billion (USD). But when you look at what in took Apollo (a favorite comparison Mars One often cites, remember), then...

Cost comparisons - Apollo vs. Mars One

 

The biggest problem , the students continued to argue, is that the technology required for a successful mission to Mars doesn't exist. And the cost to develop this technology will be huge.

For example, the largest system to ever have landed on the planet is the Mars Curiosity rover, weighing in at 899 kg. Any crewed vehicles will need to be much more massive (Mars One estimates at minimum configuration of 6,700 kg), which is a significant leap. This technology alone could cost billions of dollars and take years of development.

All this on top of the living and life support issues the students published in 2014.

Mars One admits that they have a long way to go and that there will be many changes to their plan as they proceed.  And Bas Lansdorp remains optimistic:

"It's a crazy enough project that positive surprises can happen. It's so ambitious, and I think crazy is the right word, that we might actually get a phone call from a billionaire who says 'I want to make this happen, I want the first city on Mars to be called Gates-ville or Slim city."

Watch the full debate below and share your thoughts? Can Mars One pull it off?

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

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