According to the old Dutch saying: “God made the Earth but the Dutch made Holland.” And now a Netherlands-based group proposes to do it again, but this time on Mars.
“Mars One … seems to me to be the only way to fulfill dreams of mankind’s expansion into space,” according to 1999 Nobel physics winner Gerard ‘t Hooft.
Last week Mars One made public its intention to establish the first human settlement on Mars by 2023! And to simplify the mission, lower program costs, and demonstrate their total commitment to the settlement of Mars, the Mars One astronauts do not intend to come back.
Bas Lansdorp, founder of Mars One, asks:
Who would be able to look away from an adventure such as this one? Who wouldn’t be compelled to watch, talk about, get involved in the biggest undertaking mankind has ever made?
This ebullient tone is echoed by Mars One team member physicist Arno Wielders who speaks of
…the need to make mankind a multi-planet species and because it is the most exciting project ever to be undertaken by humans.
This is the language of “ebullience” — a highly positive view of the future — always associated with the approach of Maslow Windows over the last 200 years.
Although not seen since the 1960s Apollo Moon program, this type of excitement has been the fundamental driver of great explorations back to Lewis and Clark, as well as the largest macro-engineering projects, such as the Panama Canal.
The recent kick-offs of two of the most exciting commercial projects of all time — asteroid mining by Planetary Resources and now the colonization of Mars by Mars One — support the forecast of 21stCenturyWaves.com that we are approaching another transformative, 1960s-style Maslow Window … by mid-decade.
For a brief survey of early ebullience as it erupts around the world today, Click: Did the New Space Age Begin This Week with Space Resources?
Mars One intends to finance its multi-billion dollar program by creating “the greatest media event ever,” — in essence leveraging the natural ebullience of this coming Maslow Window.
The entire world will be able to watch and help with decisions as the teams of settlers are selected, follow their extensive training and preparation for the mission and of course observe their settling on Mars once arrived. The emigrated astronauts will share their experiences with us as they build their new home, conduct experiments and explore Mars. The mission itself will provide us with invaluable scientific and social knowledge that will be accessible to everyone, not just an elite select few.
One of the most extraordinary aspects of Mars One is its schedule: the first 4 astronauts will be delivered to their new home on Mars by April, 2023. After that, every two years 4 more astronauts will join the group to form a sustainable extraterrestrial community.
To establish Club Mars by 2023 requires significant R&D and design work by their “Suppliers” which include Paragon and SpaceX (which just completed its historic mission to ISS).
According to their plan, the first actual mission will deliver supplies and a communications satellite to Mars in 2016, followed in 2018 by a large rover which will explore locations for the initial settlement. By 2020 the elements of the initial base will arrive and be ready for their first residents in 2023.
Compared to President Obama’s suggestion of manned Mars missions in the 2030s, the Mars One plan sounds accelerated, however President John F. Kennedy announced the Apollo program goal in 1961 and only 8 years later the first Moon landing occurred.
That was 40+ years ago and in addition to the six manned Moon landings, we have benefited from the Shuttle program, the International Space Station, and numerous robotic spacecraft studying Mars.
Importantly, the Mars One near-term schedule is compatible with persistent 200-year patterns in Maslow Window timing; i.e., assuming the next Maslow Window opens near 2015, it is unlikely to be viable beyond 2025.
For example, the Apollo Maslow Window opened in 1959 with Project Mercury (in response to the surprise launch of Sputnik) and slammed shut in 1970 when the last 3 Apollo Moon landing missions were canceled due to budget issues and the Vietnam War. How much more of Apollo would have been lost if Vietnam had intensified a few years earlier instead of when it did in 1968 (the Tet offensive)?
Because the “critical states” associated with Maslow Windows are short-lived and close abruptly, I suggested recently in Ad Astra that one solution is to establish self-sufficiency in deep space.
To avoid another 40 years trapped in Earth orbit, it’s important to establish human bases on the Moon and/or near Mars that can operate without frequent re-supply from Earth. This should be a high priority during the new international Space Age because of the window’s likely short lifetime.
If fund development for Mars One proceeds as planned, their schedule is Maslow-friendly. However, if it slips appreciably their program could be threatened.
One of the lessons of the last 200+ years of great explorations (e.g., the Apollo experience) is that counter-ebullient attitudes begin to appear midway into a Maslow Window. So after 2020, fund development, even for a continuing program like Mars One, is likely to become more difficult than before.