Science

Private space mission Mars One signs its first federally approved contract

Mars One, the privately run mission to put people on the red planet in just one (1) of our Earth decades, has teamed up with Paragon Space Development Corporation to develop its Martian life support systems and space suits.

Since the Mars One astronauts will be going to Mars as settlers and not coming back to Earth, their needs for life support will be vastly different than those of any existing space mission. Paragon will soon begin designs to reflect those needs.

β€œThe objective of this conceptual design study will be to provide a well-defined pathway to mature the technologies and architectures required for long-term human habitation in the Martian environment,” said Paragon co-founder and chief engineer Grant Anderson in a statement on the news.

“This is very different from what NASA and ESA are proposing,” said Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp in a recent interview with VentureBeat.

“[We are] sending humans to Mars, landing them on Mars, and keeping them alive there. … Basically, what they need to do is survive. Anything that breaks, a machine or a person, it needs to be fixed.”

Technical Assistance Agreements (TAAs) such as this are required by the U.S. State Department for the exchange of information between U.S.-based companies and non-U.S. entities (Mars One’s team is largely based in the Netherlands). Existing technologies and manufacturers will be examined and consulted as references during the design process, the companies stated.

The contract will enable the initial conceptual design of the Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) and Mars Surface Exploration Spacesuit System. During this study, Paragon will identify major suppliers, concepts, and technologies that exist today and can be used as the baseline architecture for further development. The ECLSS will provide and maintain a safe, reliable environment for the inhabitants, providing them with clean air and water. The Mars suits will enable the settlers to work outside of the habitat and explore the surface of Mars.

The Mars One mission just received its first infusion of investment funding last month. Its business model involves setting up streaming video feeds from the Mars settlement and charging for sponsorships and advertising, not unlike how the Olympic games are funded, Lansdorp said.

The mission plans to establish its first Martian settlement in 2023. The company is recruiting potential astronauts of all backgrounds now.