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13 Feb 2015 00:00
The living quarters should depart for the planet in 2022. (Brian Versteeg, Spacehabs.com)
From more than 200 000 people who hoped to leave Earth and die on Mars, only 660 remain in the running. On February 16 this number will be whittled down to a handful.
They now face a more stringent astronaut selection process.
How will the astronauts be selected?The next round involves more filmed interviews and group challenges to see how well people work together. The final selection round will follow the candidates as they cope with living in harsh, remote mock-up Mars habitats. At the end of the process, Mars One wants six groups of four astronauts to train for the mission.
How will Mars One pay for the mission?Mars One is a Dutch not-for-profit organisation that is raising money any way it can, including broadcasting rights, sponsorship deals, crowdfunding, donations from philanthropists, and licensing intellectual property rights from inventions made along the way. The first mission, costing $6-billion, aims to send a spacecraft carrying two men and two women to the planet.
What do they need to do?It’s all quite complicated. The first humans are not scheduled to blast off for Mars until 2024. But plenty of missions are planned beforehand to do vital groundwork. In 2018, a lander would be sent to the planet as a trial run for technologies that the real mission will need. That will be accompanied by a communications satellite to beam messages back and forth. In 2020, an “intelligent” rover will be sent to Mars, along with a trailer. The rover’s job is to scope out a good landing site, far enough north for the soil to contain a good amount of water, but equatorial enough to get plenty of sunlight.
Two years after that, in 2022, six cargo missions head off for Mars. They include another rover, two living units and two life support units. These land near the first rover, which tows them into position and sets up solar panels to power units. One life support unit is meant to produce a breathable atmosphere in the habitat as well as produce 1?500 litres of water and 120kg of oxygen in 500 days, which will be kept in storage.
How will the astronauts get to Mars?Mars One will contract a rocket manufacturer to build them a rocket. That could be Lockheed Martin, SpaceX or another company. In 2024, they will blast the crew’s landing module and their main living quarters for the voyage into Earth’s orbit and dock them together. The crew then launch into Earth’s orbit themselves, climb into the waiting Mars spacecraft, and head off for their destination. – © Guardian News and Media Ltd, 2015
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