January 21st, 2014

Why we want to spend the rest of our lives on Mars The Observer

Since its announcement in May 2012, the Mars One project hasn’t had an easy ride. Critics have questioned all aspects, from the technical feasibility to its funding model. But recent developments from the project seem to be bringing the goal of starting a human colony on Mars by 2025 a little closer.
Last month, Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, the project’s founder, announced a partnership with Lockheed Martin, the same company that is contracted by Nasa to build the Orion spacecraft, and Surrey Satellite Technology to build a satellite to put into orbit around Mars by 2018. This was a strong statement of intent for the project, which aims to send four volunteers on a one-way ticket every 26 months to spend the rest of their lives on the red planet.

August 1st, 2010

Elon Musk: ‘I’m planning to retire to Mars’ The Observer

The SpaceX founder is convinced that humanity’s survival rests on its ability to move to the red planet. He tells Paul Harris how his company is making the leap to the stars an affordable dream. The fresh-faced 39-year-old man, in a dark T-shirt and jeans, is talking about travelling to Mars. Not now, but when he’s older and ready to swap life on Earth for one on the red planet. “It would be a good place to retire,” he says in all seriousness. Normally, this would be the time to make one’s excuses and leave the company of a lunatic. Or to smile politely and humour a space nerd’s unlikely fantasies. But this man needs to be taken seriously for one compelling reason: he already has his own spaceship. This is Elon Musk, a brilliant entrepreneur who made a fortune from the internet and has invested vast amounts of it in building his own private space rocket company, SpaceX. Indeed, far from being crazy, Musk is the real-life inspiration for the movie character Tony Stark, the playboy scientist hero of the Iron Man franchise.

May 23rd, 2005

Yes, there is life on Mars, if you keep walking The Observer

NASA trains astronauts on desolate Devon Island in the Arctic, Earth’s closest environment to the red planet. Sarah Hampson finds wonder in the wild.

July 14th, 2002

Noisy station drives orbiting astronauts deaf The Observer

In space, no one can hear you scream. The clanging air conditioners, thumping compressors, overworked pumps and whining motors create so much noise that they drown out most of what an astronaut utters. Spacemen cannot sleep or even hear commands as a result of this interplanetary cacophony. ‘What?’ is the most common word spoken on the International Space Station. ‘It is not a healthy situation,’ admitted Mike Engle, the orbiting laboratory’s acoustics integration manager. ‘Apart from astronauts losing precious sleep, there is now a real danger that one of them will mishear a colleague’s instruction and press an incorrect button – and that could have very unfortunate consequences.’

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