Manufacturing and Mars One

MarsHave you ever wanted to live in outer space? Well, that day is coming for the lucky people involved in the Mars One Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation that will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.

To create the human colony, a new human crew, selected and trained by Mars One, will arrive every two years. The first search for astronauts began in April 2013, and competition was stiff: More than 200,000 registered for the first selection program.

The team has been working on this mission since 2011, when the founding members of Mars One completed a feasibility study to interpret whether this could be possible and started to gather a team of investors. Since the first conceptual design study in 2012, and the launch of the Astronaut Selection Program in 2013, Mars One has visited several major aerospace companies around the world to work on securing the hardware components necessary for a project of this scope and scale. Since Mars One is not an actual aerospace company that could manufacture mission hardware, they’re relying completely on third-party manufacturers to create everything necessary for the proposed settlement.

So, what type of products does one need manufactured to establish a human colony in space? The Mars Transit Vehicle is certainly an important aspect, as humans will travel through space for approximately seven months before they actually reach Mars. However, once they get there, they’ll descend in a landing module and leave this transit vehicle behind (it will be too heavy to land). The landing capsule will be manufactured by either Lockheed Martin or SpaceX, and will need to carry life support units to generate energy, water, and air, a supply unit with food, solar panels, and spare parts, and a living unit with deployable inflatable habitats.

The mission also requires two Rovers that will be sent to Mars to set up the outpost before humans arrive. The rovers will explore the surface of Mars in search of a suitable location, as well as transport large hardware components. And finally, space suits are certainly key: All astronauts will be required to wear Mars Suits when exposed to the Mars atmosphere: These will protect from extreme temperatures, thin, non-breathable air, and harmful radiation. A communications system with two communications satellites and Earth ground stations will also be important.

They’ll be using several manufacturers to make this happen: Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that also manufactures technology systems, Paragon Space Development designs and builds life support systems. Thales Alenia Space has developed pressurized elements for space travel, and Surrey Satellite Technology constructs small satellites.

You can read more about the mission here. This is an exciting time for human exploration and travel, but it’s also exciting for manufacturers who will help develop revolutionary technology that will change the face of exploration. We’re looking forward to learning more about the dynamic field of aerospace manufacturing, and following along this tremendously thrilling Mars One journey!


photo credit: Mars via photopin (license)