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Mars One mission renderings

Mars One, a commercial space mission intended to put humans in a permanent Martian colony by 2023, has just announced its first science and education partner, University of Twente, a Dutch institution with an entrepreneurial edge.

The mission sounds like a crazy one at the outset: without the support of any governmental space agency, sending human beings to a faraway planet with no plans to ever bring them back to Earth. But founder Bas Lansdorp remains undeterred, following through on his dream with practical financial plans and the million baby steps between an idea and a launch.

Mars One started recruiting civilian astronauts early this year. The company got its first funding a month later and followed that up with its first federally approved contract for developing materials and equipment for the mission.

Today’s baby step brings in the organization’s intellectual partner for the mission. University of Twente will put its scientific research and educational weight behind the startup and its goals, helping Mars One to develop survival techniques for life on an alien world.

For starters, Mars One employees will be contributing to a new engineering college within the university. Called the ATLAS College, the program will launch this September and will encourage engineering students to focus on breadth of study to solve big societal, global problems.

The university’s robotics and mechatronics departments, in turn, will be making contributions to Mars One’s robotic vehicles, and behavioral scientists will be working with the mission’s astronaut recruits on coping mechanisms for high-risk, low-certainty living situations.

“The Mars One mission shows a lot of courage and ambition, and the team clearly dares to think big,” said University of Twente rector magnificus and professor Ed Brinksmain an emailed statement on the partnership.

“As an entrepreneurial university, their enterprising spirit appeals to us a great deal. We hope that from the complexity of an expedition to Mars new research projects will sprout as spinoffs in the fields of solar energy and recycling- solutions for problems we now face on Earth.”


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