The Mars One organization, though it recently became a non-profit, wants to fund one-way expeditions to Mars via media sponsorships, reality shows, and other commercial techniques. They released this announcement today:
Mars One Secures First Investments
AMERSFOORT, THE NETHERLANDS, 29 JANUARY 2013 – Interplanetary Media Group, the Mars One daughter company which manages the intellectual property and media associated with the human mission to Mars, has received its first investments. These funds will be used to finance the Conceptual Design Studies and the launch of the global Astronaut Selection Program.
Kai Staats, Director of Business Development for Mars One states, “Organizing a human mission to Mars is a tremendously complex venture. There are many engineering hurdles to overcome and the total funds required are tremendous. Raising a few million [US dollars] in the coming months may seem insignificant in the shadow of the pending billions required, but we are taking it one step at a time. These first few bring tangible demonstration to nearly two years in planning. For us, committed funds in this phase of development are an important indicator we are moving in the right direction.”
In the first half of 2013, Mars One will award the Conceptual Design studies to industry suppliers. These are sophisticated engineering bids, technical plans which lay the foundation for the major components such as the transport vehicles, space suits, life support systems and living modules on Mars. These will substantiate the Mission plan with real-world engineering designs and data.
Mars One will also launch the Astronaut Selection Program which immediately, directly involves people from around the world. This is a new paradigm for anyone who is interested to participate in space travel. As Mars One is anticipating hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than one million applicants, the infrastructure required to professionally manage such a process is substantial.
Mars One remains open to additional investors. Interested parties may contact Mars One at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been checking in on Paul Moller and his SkyCar project occasionally since the late 1980s when I read an article in the Economist about his project. He has been working on flying cars since the 1960s and has made a few millions along the way with spinoff inventions such as the SuperTrapp muffler and a line of compact rotary engines. But still no flying car. Just hovering cars as seen in these videos.
Via the Spaceports blog comes a pointer to an announcement from Moller that a Chinese based firm has agreed to provide $80M initially and up to $480M to get a VTOL vehicle in production: Moller Forms Joint Venture with Athena Technologies, Inc. – Moller
DAVIS, Ca. January 23, 2013–Moller International, Inc. (MI) (OTC-QB: MLER), the developer of the Skycar
® and Neuera™ aircraft announced today that it has received a signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreeing to create a US-based Joint Venture (JV) with Athena Technologies Inc. of Harbor City, California. The goal of the newly formed JV is to establish co-production for its aircraft in the US and the People’s Republic of China.
Under the provisions of the memorandum, MI will team with this US company-led JV to jointly produce numerous models of its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The JV will initially invest $80 million (USD) of a planned $480 million investment with the objective of producing a variety of VTOL aircraft by 2014. Production will include the Skycar® 200 LS, Skycar® 400, Skycar® 600 and Neuera™ aircraft.
MI is to retain its Intellectual Property (IP) while providing the JV with aircraft designs,ready-to-install Rotapower® rotary aviation engines, and the requirements for the airframe and flight control systemhardware to be produced in China. The JV is to provide all necessary production funding, purchase a 35% ownership in MI and provide MI with 25% fixed ownership in the JV for a period of 10 years
The full text of the announcement is available at: Moller-Athena-MOU.pdf
Meanwhile, the company Space Sciences Corporation in New Mexico has an agreement with Moller to commercialize an early version of the SkyCar. In this Moonandback interview from last October, the co-founders of the firm “talk about their activities over the past year in developing vertical takeoff/vertical landing (VTVL) craft – a putative Flying Saucer” : John D’Alessandro and Lindsay Quarrie – A Flying Saucer Update – Moonandback.
[Update Jan.30.13: In Part 2 of the interview they “talk about how a flying saucer excites the public and kindles the educational experience, and they look at some of the applications for a vertical takeoff and landing flying vehicle” : John D’Alessandro and Lindsay Quarrie – The Cool Factor – Moonandback.
As I’ve mentioned before, I think the best hope for a practical VTOL flying car will be more along the lines of the Israeli UrbanAero AirMule. You can follow its progress via their updates and videos & downloads. The Aerofex Tandem Duct Aerial Vehicle takes a similar design approach:
The European SpaceLiner concept looks hopelessly expensive and impractical for point-to-point travel but something like it might work for transport to space once there are large habitats in orbit: Planners for hypersonic SpaceLiner craft propose a 50 year timeline – PhysOrg
Bob Zimmerman reports on the latest space news during regular weekly slots (usually Tuesday and Thursdays) on the John Batchelor radio program. See the iTunes free Podcast for links to the latest shows. Here are links and summaries for his most recent appearances on the show:
Tuesday, 01/22/13 – Batchelor Fourth Hour | John Batchelor Show:
[…] robotic mission to ISS, private space enterprise to mine asteroids. The plans and proposed launch schedule of the new asteroid mining company, Deep Space Industries. They aim to do their work using cubesats, which will keep everything cheap and simple, with the first launches by 2015, and the first sample return missions by 2016. Their new manufacturing technology appears to be a variation of 3D printing, though the descriptions so far released remain vague on details.
[…] deep worry for Kepler: Even as the Kepler mission struggles to survive, the science team has released its entire database of exoplanet candidates to the public.
Thursday 01/24/13 Batchelor Fourth Hour | John Batchelor Show:
[…] Science: 1. A research plane has crashed in Antarctica, three missing. New balloon record in Antarctica. Balto 1925: the Anti-Balto, 2013: The polio virus has spread from Pakistan to Egypt.
[…] manned space: Opportunity celebrates its 9th anniversary. 1. Structural braces are being added to the first Orion capsule because of the cracks found. 2. Chinese space program gets speeded up? 3. Russia is threatening to abandon Baikonur because of demands made by Kazakhstan.