New Mars colony mission to be crowdfunded
A new international project aiming to establish humans on a Mars colony – will be crowdfunded. The MarsPolar venture, which plans to create the first settlement on the Red Planet around 2029, is hoping it will be able to raise enough money to cover the costs of the pioneering journey.
“I hope that we will have enough to contract the rover teams, to start preparing our first mission of sending two rovers to Mars,” Arteum Goncharov, the co-founder and CEO of MarsPolar told astrowatch.net.
The crowdfunding campaign is scheduled to start on July 1 and will last 45 days, ending on Aug. 14. The team has stated that they will probably choose the Indiegogo site to run their campaign from. Goncharov is mulling the idea of securing the collected funds, even if the certain goal is not achieved – an option offered by the platform.
MarsPolar wants to collect at least $100.000 to provide funding for the initial stage of the project, particularly to establish its base in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). This will allow the venture to take first steps towards contracting new partners or hiring engineers and scientists.
Any amount collected over the estimated minimum goal would push the project forward to sending the first colonists to Mars. However, the team admits that it’s hard to predict the exact sum of money required for the mission success.
“At this moment it is hard to say how much money will be needed to send first people to Mars. As for now, the cheapest flight to the Low Earth Orbit costs about $65 million. But, for example, the companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are working on reusable rocket launchers. So the price for the flight is going to decrease in the nearest future,” Goncharov noted.
“If now, the mission costs billions of dollars, in the future that mission might cost less than one billion. Now [we] have [a] good example of sending [an] unmanned mission to Mars only for $74 million by India. It shows us, that we can do all this things cheaper and still on the same level as governmental space giants,” he added.
However, before MarsPolar will be all set to send a manned mission, several spacecraft will be delivered to the Red planet with habitats and supplies for future colonists. The first rover is slated to be launched between 2018 and 2022, after NASA’s InSight mission on which the teams’ robot would be based on.
The team will look for potential rovers at the European Rover Challenge in Poland, the competition that aims to select and award the best robots capable of coping with the harsh, rocky Martian environment. In return, MarsPolar has decided to give 5 percent of the raised funds to support the competition.
Goncharov revealed that the crowdfunding campaign will also offer some merchandise for the donors, like T-shirts or mugs, what often various companies do to thank the supporters. The final list of potential awards is still to be decided.
Besides funding the one-way trip to Mars, the raised money could be used also to build a spaceport for commercial and suborbital spaceflights.
“We have a dream to build a spaceport for commercial, suborbital spaceflights, like the Spaceport America,” Goncharov said. “At this moment, the cost of Spaceport America is not as big as a flight to Mars. Its construction has cost only $250 million.”
MarsPolar CEO concluded that beyond all upcoming crowdfunding activities, his thoughts are also on connecting people willing to dream big about the future of space exploration and making the dream come true. He ponders the international community of scientists, designers, and engineers, united for one goal – to settle the Red Planet.
Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.