Category Archives: Living in Space

Mars settlement – not as far fetched as it used to be

Science writer Marc Kaufman writes about the growing realization that creating settlements on Mars and elsewhere in space in the not so distant future is not an impossible fiction but something that might actually be doable: Human mission to Mars is no longer just a sci-fi dream – The Washington Post.

There certainly will be no shortage of people wanting to go as discussed in this recent post about applicants for the Mars One settlement project. (See also this BBC report and video about Mars One and the flood of applicants: Prospect of one-way Mars trip captures the imagination – BBC)

By far the biggest challenge is lowering the cost of getting to space. Progress is being made on that front by new companies like SpaceX, which is aiming to develop a fully reusable rocket system that could lower the costs by as much as 100 times below today’s average space transport prices. The amazing video below shows a recent test of a prototype first stage booster that is demonstrating vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. (You can follow progress in new rocket vehicle development at NewSpace Watch, where I post daily on the latest developments.)

In the following video, Elon Musk, founder and chief of SpaceX, talks with Salman Khan of Khan Academy about a range of topics including lowering the cost of rockets and Mars settlements:

Long queue for Mars One pioneering + Adapting to different gravities

When the cost of putting people on Mars drops to an affordable range, there will be no shortage of people wanting to go there to build a new world: Life on Mars to become a reality in 2023, Dutch firm claims: Thousands apply to become one of four astronauts selected to set up a human colony in a plan that comes with snags –

Regarding the effects of living for a long period in gravity that’s 38% of that on earth, we don’t know the effects. The only data on fractional gravity is from the Apollo astronauts that spent a few days on the Moon and this was too short a time to have any effect.

To answer such questions, the Space Studies Institute has proposed the G-Lab, a rotating tethered habitat system for doing long term animal studies at different gravity strengths.

For a Mars settlement plan, it is not unreasonable to make the working assumption that it would be too dangerous to attempt to re-adapt to earth. However, my guess is that it will in fact be quite possible for a long term Mars resident to adapt to Earth’s gravity. The fundamental physical capacity to withstand that level of gravity will remain and can be retrained.

Ultimately, it would make sense to have a transport system traveling from Mars to Earth to provide rotation to generate spin gravity. This would allow for the gravity to be gradually increased from 0.38g to 1.0g over the course of the months long trip and allow passengers to gradually adapt to Earth conditions.

Video: The Mars One astronaut selection program briefing

The Mars One organization had a press conference event in New York City today to talk about the selection of Applicants for their plan to put a settlement on Mars. The panel included:

  • Bas Lansdorp, Co-Founder and CEO, Mars One
  • Gerard ‘t Hooft, Nobel laureate and Ambassador of Mars One
  • Norbert Kraft, Chief Medical Officer, Mars One
  • Grant Anderson, Sr. VP Operations, Chief Engineer and Co-Founder, Paragon Space Development Corporation
  • Bryan Versteeg, Mission Concept Artist, Mars One

The event was  moderated by Emily Lakdawalla, Senior Editor at the Planetary Society.

Update: Here is a press release from Mars One:

Mars One starts its search for the first humans on Mars

NEW YORK, Monday, 22nd April 2013 – Mars One is happy to announce the launch of its astronaut selection program today. The search has begun for the first humans to set foot on Mars and make it their home.

Mars One invites would-be Mars settlers from anywhere in the world to submit an online application via

This online application will be the first of the four rounds that together make the Mars One selection procedure. Round One will run for over five months and end on 31st August 2013. Applicants selected at the end of this round will include the first crew that will land on Mars in 2023. Mars One selection committees will hone the search for the first crew in three subsequent rounds and further training.

“We are very excited about launching the selection program. Round One is where we open the doors to Mars for everyone on Earth. This is an international mission and it is very important for the project that anyone anywhere can ask themselves: Do I want this? Am I ready for this? If the answer is yes then we want to hear from you,” said Bas Lansdorp, co-founder of Mars One.

In the last year Mars One received 10,000 messages from prospective applicants from over 100 countries. Mars One expects an unprecedented number of applications and even more internet users visiting the application website to support their favorite candidates.

Applicants are given the choice of publicly sharing and promoting their application page. While Mars One experts will choose which candidates progress to Round 2, everyone will have the opportunity to know the aspiring settlers and give them their vote of confidence.

Applicants will pay a small administration fee that varies across nations according to their per capita GDP. The variable fee makes the program equally accessible for applicants from all nations and also reduces the number of insincere entries.

“For this mission of permanent settlement we are more concerned with how well each astronaut lives and works with others and their ability to deal with a lifetime of challenges.”

“Gone are the days when bravery and the number of hours flying a supersonic jet were the top criteria,” said Norbert Kraft, Mars One’s Chief Medical Director and former NASA senior researcher.

“For this mission of permanent settlement we are more concerned with how well each astronaut lives and works with others and their ability to deal with a lifetime of challenges.”

Throughout the astronaut selection program, Mars One will select applicants who have good physical and mental health and show five key character traits: Resilience, Adaptability, Curiosity, Ability to trust others, and Creativity/Resourcefulness.

In the last stage when 24-40 candidates have been fully trained and qualified, the final decision of choosing the first settlers will be decided by an audience vote.

“In a 1000 years, everyone on Earth will still remember who the first humans on Mars were, just like Neil Armstrong has etched in our memories forever. This makes the selection of the first crew to a different planet a very important election; in my opinion more important than most elections. We hope the whole world will join Mars One in our democratic search of the envoys of mankind to Mars, ” Lansdorp said.

About Mars One
The Mars One Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that will send humans to Mars in 2023 to establish the first permanent settlement outside Earth. Before the first settlers land on Mars a self-sustaining habitat will be set up with help of rovers and more settlers will follow every two years. A realistic mission plan has been designed using only existing technology available through the private space industry. The first footprint on Mars will fascinate and inspire generations; it is this public interest that will help finance this human mission to Mars.

Free Kindle ebook of Gerard K. O’Neill’s classic “The High Frontier”

Here’s an announcement from the Space Studies Institute:

The High Frontier is a FREE Kindle ebook!

At Space Access 2013 SSI President Gary Hudson announced the release of Gerard K. O’Neill‘s classic The High Frontier as an exclusive Amazon Kindle ebook.


Today we have another announcement:  From Saturday April 20th to Tuesday April 23rd, the Kindle edition of The High Frontier is absolutely free.  Just open the Kindle app on your iOS, Android, Windows PC or Mac and type High Frontier in the Kindle store, or get your free Kindle edition directly from the website at .

The High Frontierr was a milestone in the work to make the dream of Space Settlement real for everyone.  So many lives were changed by this book.  Now a new digital generation can learn the needs, the goals and the potentials that Professor O’Neill made so clearly understandable.

With The High Frontier Kindle edition you get the full original artwork by Don Davis, the cover art of the 1988 second edition by Pat Rawlings (in full color on supported devices), full text searching and the bonus chapter “The View from 1988” that Dr. O’Neill added to the SSI second edition.*

Already own a copy of The High Frontier?  Go ahead and get your Kindle version for free today and save your print version for special times.

Have friends who have never read The High Frontier?  Pass this email along… and tell them to pass it along too!

Yes, proceeds from sales of The High Frontier Kindle edition at its regular price of $6.99 do add up to help the important research and projects of The Space Studies Institute and the free promotion does not, but we think that getting The High Frontier out there in the hands of a new generation is worth it.  Don’t you?

Of course if you do think that supporting the work of SSI and promotions like this one are a good thing for the cause, we would welcome your your membership or donation. There is a simple PayPal link at SSI.ORG that you can use to show your support at any time.

Remember, this is a limited time free offer.  Saturday April 20th to Tuesday April 23rd only.**  After that, the retail price is back in effect.  So get your FREE copy of the High Frontier Kindle edition today!

Robert Smith

Space Studies Institute