One-Way Human Settlement Projects

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Instead of bringing a crew to Mars and getting them back after several months, a manned one-way mission is considered. The crew stays on Mars without any planned return concept.

One way symbolic.jpg

Why do a manned one-way mission?

  • Building a permanent Martian settlement is the actual aim to reach. Planning and performing a return mission does not bring us much further to reach this aim and is, therefore, a waste of time.
  • The costs of the preparation of a return vehicle is high. A one-way mission is much cheaper and yields the same technological and scientific results. If the saved effort is spent to build a comfortable long term settlement, the technological and scientific results are much higher.
  • The health risk of extended space travel is high. It increases the probability for cancer. A one-way trip poses only half the risk of a return mission. Due to the cost of shipping radiation shielding for a massive space ship, a ship with shielding equivalent to Earth's atmosphere could not be built from Earthly material. It might be built in space from material already in space, such as material on Phobos, Luna, or an asteroid.
  • Bone atrophy and reduced muscle strength are inevitable in space with current medical knowledge unless centrifuged quarters are provided. After a return mission of estimated 520 days the astronauts would surely suffer much from the strong terrestrial gravity. A one-way trip takes less than 250 days. The longest space trip up to now was 439 days by Waleri Poljakow.

Possible scenarios

Mission with planned death

The crew is brought to Mars with a certain amount of supplies (food, oxygen, etc.) that lasts, let's say, a year. When they run out of supplies they die and the mission is over. There are plenty of volunteers for such a mission, for some people consider it an honor worth dying for to be the first on Mars. No government will finance such a mission because governments do not consider it an honor to send people needlessly to their deaths.

Foundation of an Earth-supported colony

The crew is brought to Mars with a certain amount of supplies (food, oxygen, etc.) that lasts, let's say, a year. Early before they run out of supplies they receive replenishment from Earth. A constant logistic maintains the colony indefinitely.

Foundation of an autonomous colony

People are brought to Mars not before a basic artificial habitat with houses, supplies and equipment for a long term stay has been deposited on Mars' surface. The equipment is technologically sufficient to allow the settlers to grow their own food, extend their settlement etc.


In October 2010 the NASA Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden has announced the Hundred Year Starship initiative. It is about the establishment of a permanent Earth-supported colony and the step-by-step development to a self-sustaining colony. Departure is thought to be in 2030.

In 2012 the commercial project Mars One was announced. It is planned to launch persons in 2022. Mars one went broke in 2019.

See Also


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