Mars Exchange
How do you plan a mission like Mars One’s mission to Mars?

How do you plan a mission like Mars One’s mission to Mars?

by Natasha Schön on Sunday, 23rd August 2015 in Inside 360, People, Arno Wielders

Arno Wielders, the co-founder and CTO of Mars One, currently divides his time between Mars One and working at the European Space Technology and Research Centre (ESTEC) of the European Space Agency as a payload study manager for new planetary mission studies and as a payload systems engineer for the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission. In this and other subsequent stories, Arno Wielders provides insight into Mars One's mission design, technology, and budget. In this story he talks about how the Mars One mission was initially designed.

A project of this magnitude should usually be based off of something that has been done before. Since this is a one of a kind mission, we had to turn to previous research conducted on traveling to Mars. Let me tell you, there are many different concepts outlining how one can complete this task.

First, we first looked at which carrying systems would be available to us. We asked questions like, ‘What can this carrying system bring to low earth orbit?’, ‘What can it bring to Mars?’, ‘Can this capsule, that is currently in development be adapted to our mission to Mars?’. We considered all these different aspects and made decisions about how we wanted to get material to Mars. We already knew that we didn’t want to develop a system that brought everything to Mars in one go, because entry descending landing systems are so far from being ready that it would be very difficult to implement for this mission.

Secondly, we thought about how many people should be sent in one go to Mars. We decided to go with the minimum number because this mission is meant to be expanded over a long period of time. Plus, the more people you send in one go, the more expensive the systems become. It is also better to create a great group that can survive and flourish on Mars than it is to maximize the amount of people that fly to Mars. As the saying goes, quality over quantity.

Thirdly, we talked to a lot of experts in relevant fields about our mission. These experts worked on missions with NASA and ESA and their insights and feedback helped us build and design the framework of Mars One’s mission. Additionally, we knew there were parts of our mission that needed to be studied and therefore, planned a few conceptual design studies. This would allow us to know what, for example, the modules would need to look like in a bit more detail.

These were the initial things we considered when creating the foundation of Mars One’s mission to Mars.

Mars One's mission design is currently in the early mission concept phase, or as called in space development terms: Phase A. The top level requirements for the mission have been identified and discussed with established aerospace companies. Possible solutions were proposed and discussed after which a baseline mission concept was defined and rough cost figures were discussed. For more information about Mars One's current mission status, please also read:

This story was contributed by Arno Wielders, co-founder and CTO of Mars One.

Find out more about Mars One's mission to Mars here: 

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