A cheaper way to get humans to Mars: One-way tickets

Credit: NASA

NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine has the text of a presentation given by physicist Paul Davies: A One-way Ticket to Mars.

The greatest expense in sending a group of astronauts to Mars is actually getting them back to Earth. Davies estimates that we may be able to save up to 80% of the costs by sending a group of four astronauts to Mars and then just leaving them there.

At first, this might sound crazy, but how different is it than when my great-grandparents left Norway for the United States, never to see their families again? Granted, Minnesota had oxygen and farmland (but my grandparents eventually ended up in Ekalaka, Montana, which may not have been all that different than ending up on Mars).

The astronauts would end up staying on Mars as the first members of a colony, with the hope that more astronauts would arrive every few years.

“As Bob Zubrin [founder of the Mars Society] has pointed out, Mars is the second-safest place in the solar system. And so it’s the one place humans can go where we could actually make a living, because it’s possible to use material on the martian surface, and crucially, Mars has water and carbon dioxide. So you’re not saying to the people who are going on this one-way mission: you’ve got three days’ supplies and that’s it. You could also protect yourself from some of the worlds hazards, such as the hazard of thin atmosphere.

“I would envisage probably four people would go in the first instance. But a one-way mission to Mars would not just be a one-off exercise. They would be trailblazers. It would be the first step to establishing a permanent human presence on another world. Although they would go without the expectation of returning, they would have the expectation that sooner or later they would be joined by others and that this Mars base would grow and eventually become a permanent Mars colony that might take hundreds of years to establish.”

Anyone want to sign up?

Grace and Peace

2 thoughts on “A cheaper way to get humans to Mars: One-way tickets

  1. If it would cut costs by 80%, why not launch more than four astronauts? Or four astronauts plus a lot more equipment to make their lives far more comfortable? Of course it’ll take hundreds of years if we send people on a one-way trip and then don’t have them pack for one.


  2. WebMonk

    I’d think that 4 would be a bit skimpy too. Even if they are just the construction crew for habitats for soon-coming Martians, I would think they would want more than 4 to be there building things.

    On the other hand, they don’t want to have 50 go because you would need what is essentially a functioning habitat just to house the people who are supposed to be building the habitat.

    I’ll leave it to the experts to come up with a best number, but I’d probably off-the-cuff suggest between 6 and 12.


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