The Mars One Mission, a Dutch non-profit organization, is working to put humans on Mars by the year 2025, and to eventually establish a colony of up to forty people. Four astronauts would be the original trailblazers and spend the rest of their lives on Mars building the red planet’s first human settlement. These astronauts would have to travel through space for almost seven months to reach their destination. The outlined plan for this mission includes five main hardware components.
- Simulation Outpost- The company is planning to build several Earth-based simulations to train the astronauts, to test technology, and to develop the best possible plan.
- Mars Transit Vehicle- This is the technology used to send the astronauts on their seven month journey. They will travel in the transit module and then leave that behind upon landing, which will be done in the landing module. Life support units that generate water, energy, and oxygen, as well as a supply unit and a living unit with inflatable habitats will come within the Mars Transit Vehicle.
- Rovers- Rovers will be sent to Mars prior to the arrival of the humans to scope out the best location for human settlement. A second rover will be used to move landing capsules around the harsh terrain.
- Mars suit- The suits will protect the humans from unbreathable air, radiation and extreme temperatures.
- Communications system- This will be used to transmit information back and forth from Earth to Mars.
Mars One claims that this mission could be accomplished with existing technology, and that no new technologies would be required to sustain human life. But MIT did an in depth analysis and does not necessary agree with that statement. Mars One envisioned sustainable crops to be grown on Mars, but these crops would produce unsafe levels of oxygen that would set off a chain reaction, eventually causing the astronauts to suffocate. A system to remove excess oxygen from space has not been developed as of yet. They also determined that the estimated budget was a little too optimistic. Mars One anticipated needing about six Falcon Heavy rockets to set up initial supplies before the four astronauts arrived. MIT estimated that it was more like fifteen Falcon Heavy rockets of supplies, with continued resupply rockets again raising the costs.
Yet, despite doubts of its plausibility, the Mars One project has been moving forward. Over 200,000 people sent in applications to be one of the four original inhabitants. Now that number has been cut down to about 705 people, giving each of them a roughly 1 in 35 chance of being travelers and eventual inhabitants of Mars. One of those possible 705 people is Sonia Van Meter, a managing director at a political consulting firm as well as a wife and step mom of two. While the mission is still a long shot (Mars One still needs additional funding and according to MIT, some new technology), Van Meter has been under attack and great scrutiny for even applying. How could she leave her husband and family on a one way ticket to Mars? While she was being accused of being selfish and crazy, her husband Jason Stanford acknowledged that things might be different if he were the one traveling. When male astronauts in the past took potentially dangerous missions, leaving families behind, no one called them selfish. He has agreed that his wife is a trail blazer and that she should be commended in her effort to dedicate her life to adventure and discovery. He even commented that he wouldn’t mind being “Mr. Sonia Van Meter for the rest of my life” if it meant his wife would be able to change the course of history. Stanford compares his wife to Colombian or Magellan who “didn’t stay home because they were married”. Van Meter’s love of space traces back to a childhood love of Star Trek, which she always says is much more than a space story but a story about how humans can work together to accomplish incredible things. Even if she isn’t selected as one of the four, I personally believe that she should be commended for her heroism, and for changing a societal standard about history makers. Adventurers and trailblazers can be found in all people, even in women with families.