back to article Big Brother in SPAACE: Mars One picks first 100 morons to suffocate, er, settle on Red Planet

The final 100 wannabe Mars One colonists have been announced. The organizer of the project has received 202,586 applications from Earthlings longing for a one-way trip to the fourth rock from the Sun – and claims it will fire the first four settlers to Mars in 2024. It will fund the whole thing through sponsorship and a …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Maybe this is the B ark.

    1. g e

      Douglas Adams was right

      Going to end up like the Golgafrinchams in the HHG series...

      We'll get wiped out by an asteroid and they'll all be on Mars being vapid at each other as the last remnants of the human race. Are there any Hairdressers or Telephone Sanitisers in the candidates...?

  2. mtp

    Work up to it

    They should try the easier options of the sahara and antarctica before going for the big one of Mars. If they cant cope with Antarctica then there is clearly no point in going for Mars which is many times more hostile.

    1. mafoo

      Peter Molyneux

      This has all the hallmarks of Peter Molyneux, maybe he could start a kickstarter for it.

    2. LoboSolo

      Re: Work up to it

      They are going to work on it here before they go. That's part of the plan.

  3. Strange Fruit

    "Some of the potential astronaut picks seem to be based on their televisual appeal rather than usefulness as likely colonists."

    Only some of them? I assume that was irony

  4. zaax

    Use the caves. There might even be water in them

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      That would make them all Cave Johnsons.

  5. Muckminded

    In space, no one can hear you say "cut"

    Sounds like a very expensive way to dispose of a few idiots. Must be cheaper ways of winning Darwin awards.

    1. Martin Budden

      Re: In space, no one can hear you say "cut"

      If the colony is actually self-sustaining then presumably they won't be eligible for Darwin awards due to the possibility of a continuing line of descendants.

      That's a very big if, natch.

      1. MacGyver

        Re: In space, no one can hear you say "cut"


        How did that whole Bio-dome thing work out again? Oh, yeah, it didn't (twice). We don't even know how to do that, let alone launch, fly, land, build, and live on a foreign planet.

        I say put them under the ocean and see if they can even do that, if they live THEN spend a couple billion dollars to lob them at Mars.

        1. cray74

          Re: In space, no one can hear you say "cut"

          "How did that whole Bio-dome thing work out again? Oh, yeah, it didn't (twice)."

          I don't think Bio-Dome is a good comparison since it was a stoner comedy even worse than this plan, and I'm sorry you had to see it twice to realize it didn't work. ;)

          But more seriously, Biosphere-2 is an imperfect comparison to this Mars mission. Besides being as much a New Age art project as a science project, Biosphere-2's Missions 1 and 2 were saddled with requirements differing from the proposed Mars mission. Most notably, Biosphere-2 was obsessed with a closed ecology and refused to import materials like fresh air (except when it did), while Mars One is depending on in situ resource extraction to make up losses.

          The high oxygen levels predicted by MIT almost sounds like a poorly considered joke, worse than my Biodome "joke." Oxygen is easy control. If you have an excess, bottle it or burn it (preferably in something useful, like a rover engine or fuel cell). Mars isn't hurting for carbon and hydrogen sources to provide fuel, you just need to turn those sources into a useful form with the appropriate amount of energy and chemical reactions. And making up nitrogen losses shouldn't be hard thanks to the nitrogen content of the Martian atmosphere. It'd take some filtering, compression, and gas separation, but should be easier than getting xenon out of Earth's atmosphere.

          That said, I wouldn't want to be on the Mars One base when all their first generation resource extraction gear discovers its bugs and real-world inadequacies.

  6. Christoph

    Just suppose it actually works, and they get people up there and living there. And then everyone gets bored with the reality show that's just showing the same old things over and over, and their funding disappears.

    There's no way to evacuate. They can't keep going forever, sooner or later the colonists are going to be abandoned.

    And that assumes that nothing catastrophic goes wrong, when any kind of help is years away. They can't do a Shackleton and work their way home, they're stuck there.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >There's no way to evacuate. They can't keep going forever, sooner or later the colonists are going to be abandoned.

      Put the thrilling rescue mission on pay per view! Drama! Excitement!


      1. DropBear

        There's no way to evacuate.

        What do you mean? Of course there is. You just switch off the floodlights, open the hangar doors, fire the support staff and retire to Malibu with all the money you've made on broadcast rights. Wait, you thought they were actually intending to go all the way to Mars...?

      2. ravenviz Silver badge
        Paris Hilton


        And *really wild things*!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just don't name the first settlement "Greenland"--especially if you plop it down next to the Viking Lander.

    3. Bill Posters


      The longer they survive, especially after they stop being utterly dependant on earth for everything, the more people with money, ideas, ambitions, and product to sell, will be interested.

      Which Cola will have the first decent billboard on Mars?

      Which fast food chain will have the first outlet?

      Nah... Piratebay will be first to set up a data centre...

    4. Sykobee

      As soon as people are alive and surviving on Mars, then whoever did it will effectively not be allowed to abandon them (i.e., go bust, run out of funding, etc). It surely will be nationalised as soon as this looks likely to happen, of course, and the cost of keeping these photogenic people alive will be maintained by the taxpayers until the oxygen flameout incident finishes the people off.

      I wish they would just cut to the "Celebrity" variant of this particular reality TV concept.

    5. Eddy Ito

      They can't keep going forever, sooner or later the colonists are going to be abandoned.

      I'm thinking they'll pretty much be on their own once the radio signal delay becomes critical. Given that's a minimum of 3-4 minutes and a max around 23 minutes, each way of course, they're pretty much on their own when they get there, perhaps before.

  7. Rol

    In preparation for the big event I am renewing my commitment to being without a TV.

    However I do hope vacuous will not be the trait most sought after by voters with at least some boffins and useful folk making the cut.

    1. John Bailey

      "However I do hope vacuous will not be the trait most sought after by voters with at least some boffins and useful folk making the cut."

      Of course not..

      Bubbly , hunky, slutty, and a willingness to get em out on camera are also highly sought after traits.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    "...on the shortlist to wear red shirts"

    That would top everything, if the first wave of colonists were all given red shirts to wear when then landed.

    On one hand, I don't mind because A) they volunteered and B) great voyages of exploration and expansion are dangerous. However, if the settlement turns into colonial Jamestown, its going to play out on TV, at least until feral colonists start cannibalizing the communications gear.

    1. MrXavia

      Re: "...on the shortlist to wear red shirts"

      Red Shirts?

      Why should they wear any clothes apart from space suits? they are unnecessary, plus it would make better TV :-D

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I was too old to apply but given the choice between dying on Mars and dying on Earth, I'd pick Mars. If not for the urge to venture into the unknown, humanity would have gone extinct in Olduvai Gorge. I live just up the Bay from Jamestown where the explorers who sailed there met the descendents of the explorers who walked there. Neither group was assured of success.

    1. VinceH

      Re: Shackleton

      "I was too old to apply but given the choice between dying on Mars and dying on Earth, I'd pick Mars."

      I agree - but not when it comes to this project.

      Mars One may be thinking of the bigger picture, of exploration, of furthering our boundaries - but with a reality TV aspect to it (and with some candidates that, as the article suggests, look like they are being picked for that aspect), not to mention the disputed scientific research and funding questions, I find the whole idea very off-putting.

      That doesn't mean I won't watch the TV show, though: I've never watched a huge train crash before.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Shackleton

        I don't care if they sell live streaming Martian porn to finance this venture as long as they are successful in getting there.

        Oh, and, Iain, such a wistful tone in the article - did they turn your application down? :-)

        Dying on Mars? Sounds better than most other ways of dying currently available on Earth...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    is this reality tv show some weird form of ...

    ... gene pool selection?

    On the plus side, they can't sue if they don't come back.

  11. John Brown (no body) Silver badge


    "Growing crops within the proposed habitat could generate dangerously high levels of oxygen"

    Won't the joss sticks and scented candles balance that out?

    1. Chozo

      Re: Oxygen?

      You're quite correct. The Russian CELSS aka 'biosphere' experiments conducted back in the mid sixties solved the excess oxygen problem by simply burning some of the plant material under controlled conditions.

  12. Mikel

    4.5 billion

    Of course if Musk makes his reusable rockets work and reduces launch costs by a factor of 100 as hoped, that would be only $45 million. Easily within reach. May it's time James Cameron considered shooting on location on Mars. For his movies that's just the catering budget.

  13. OzBob

    Is Russell Brand one of the other 4 UK entrants?

    Please please please please please please please please please please please please please

  14. Sol Warda

    The most BRILLIANT headline I have seen in a long time! Bravo, The Register!.

  15. Laney

    yea it will be those who were selected for the one way ticket

  16. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Reality TV....

    Er.. yeah.. like if the mission actually launches, what could be more exciting than to watch 4 people floating around twiddling their thumbs? Outside of maybe watching grass grow?

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Reality TV....

      Could be fun as one has to assume the Americans will take their guns with them.

  17. Art Esian


    WE would be better off devoting our effort to co-existence on this planet rather than waste public and private treasure on this moonbeam project. A far more practical adventure would be to colonise the oceans that surround us and are the real salvation of the planet.

    1. Intractable Potsherd


      Until a decent sized meteor comes along, for instance.

      There isn't a single problem facing the Earth as a whole for which the answer isn't "We need to get out into space as soon as possible".

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge


        There isn't a single problem facing the Earth as a whole for which the answer isn't "We need to get out into space as soon as possible".

        What utter fucking nonsense.

        First, there are very few problems "facing the Earth as a whole", and for most of them "getting into space" doesn't help at all. A supernova in our neighborhood or false vacuum collapse are two obvious examples.

        A big chunk of space rock is not a problem for "the Earth as a whole". It could be a problem for a big segment of the biosphere, including us, but the Earth as a whole won't care at all.

        And the biggest problem facing humanity as a whole is our general tendency to be lousy to each other. Getting into space isn't going to help that; however much room we have, the alternatives are to be alone or be in groups, and history is pretty conclusive that neither option works very well.

        The usual arguments for "getting into space" are access to more resources and resistance to extinction. We have plenty of margin for doing a better job with the resources we have right here, and personally I could not care less if the species disappeared tomorrow. And the only manner in which anyone can is purely imaginary, since - by definition - they wouldn't be around to experience it. It's a philosophical aspiration.

  18. Brian Miller

    Perfectly safe!

    They aren't going anywhere. All of this is hype for a TV show, and it doesn't have to be backed by actual science because no science is required to stay on the planet and grab some ratings before everybody gets bored and switches to something else. Remember, Survivor wasn't about surviving. The producers can write whatever fiction they want. The fact is that nobody is going to Mars being funded by some advertising. El Reg's playmonaut has a better shot of going to Mars than any of these "contestants."

    Speaking of which, why not send the playmonaut to Mars?

  19. Winkypop Silver badge


    Takes on a whole new meaning on Mars.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is nitrogen shortage / oxygen abundance a problem?

    Where's the nitrogen going, will the habitat have a leak? By definition this has to be a closed system, if it isn't an overabundance of oxygen will be the least of their worries!

    Nitrogen is fixed by plants, goes into us when we eat them, then comes out of us as waste. Bacteria can extract the nitrogen from urine and return it to the atmosphere.

    1. kdhilliard

      Re: Why is nitrogen shortage / oxygen abundance a problem?

      The "Crew dead in 68 days" result was due to a software bug in the open source biological simulation code that the MIT team used. I pointed out the problem to them and uploaded a patch to the BioSim GitHub repository to fix the CO2 overdraft bug back in November, and the MIT team told me that they will publish an updated and corrected version of paper sometime this spring, but I do wish they would publish a retraction / correction in the meantime.

      The quick story is that, being more experienced in modeling spacecraft than extraterrestrial farms, they forgot to include the CO2 injection and O2 removal that are required to grow 100% of the food to be consumed by the crew. When comparing equal dry mass of plant material grown and food consumed, plant photosynthesis and the crew’s cellular respiration pretty much balance one another out, with the plants generating as much O2 from CO2 as the crew converts back into CO2 by metabolizing the food. But, on average, you only consume about 50% of the plant material which is grown (a higher percentage for crops such as lettuce, a lower one for crops such as peanuts) with the rest being waste. In order to grow all the food that is consumed, you need to grow twice as much total crop mass as is consumed, and in doing so your plants will require twice as much CO2 as is generated by the crew, and will generate twice as much O2 as will be required by the crew.

      Since the MIT team did not include CO2 injection in their model, the crops should not have thrived, but there was an error in the biological simulation software in that the return value of the CO2 store take() method was ignored, and the crops continued to grow and produce O2 despite the CO2 level bottoming out, thus behaving as if there was an out-of-model injection of CO2. The resulting O2 excess should have clued the MIT team into the fact that something funny was going on, but they put too much faith in the software and just treated it as a life support problem, and they stuck to the requirement that the life support system must be exactly as has flown on the ISS, which has not flown an O2 removal unit because the CASEO (Cabin Air Separator for EVA Oxygen) was canceled in favor of the NORS (Nitrogen / Oxygen Recharge System) 6000 psi tanks to be flown on resupply flights. Their modeled system responded to the O2 % excess by venting the atmosphere and replacing it with N2 until that resource was consumed and the pressure dropped to the point that the crew died of asphyxia ... due to excess O2. (What an epitaph!)

      Were it not for the bug, the MIT team would have realized they they needed both a CO2 injection unit and an O2 removal unit, and since the former is clearly not part of any life support system, they'd have realized that the latter wasn't either, and that despite affecting the atmosphere, they both should be considered part of the plant growth system and held to the lesser TRL standards of the rest of the ISRU systems. They would have mentioned these requirements, but they would have left out the erroneous results which lead the telegraph to write, "Mars colonists 'would die after 68 days'".

      Sophisticated readers of the MIT paper, even those who didn't catch the error, saw that this was just an argument over the required TRL of a particular piece of hardware, and that the important message was that the long term cost of such a settlement, particularly one which is expanding its population every two years, is driven by the resupply of consumables and repair parts. The crew-dead-in-68-days result, besides being in error, disparaged the Mars One project, distracted readers from the true message of the paper, and was a disservice to the public, the majority of whom took away only the sensational headlines.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why is nitrogen shortage / oxygen abundance a problem?

        It sounds like you know WAY more about this than me, but isn't the problem with waste like peanut shells dealt with by burning and/or composting them to close the carbon/oxygen cycle on those?

        1. kdhilliard

          Re: Why is nitrogen shortage / oxygen abundance a problem?

          Yes, burning or aerobically composting the waste should close the carbon/oxygen cycle, but be sure to include the human manure to catch that bit of waste as well. (Hmm, I think I'd vote for composting over burning.) That is what the Biosphere II group did and they did not have an O2 excess, but instead ran a slight O2 deficit. It was not understood at the time, but they've subsequently decided that it was probably a reaction with the exposed concrete.

          But the model which the MIT team used had a Dry Waste store which received both the plant waste and the solid human waste, thus taking it out of the system. This is probably a good choice for an initial outpost, as making up the CO2 and extracting the O2 is not hard. (They get N2 from the Martian atmosphere -- it makes up about 2% of the already thin 0.006 bar atmosphere -- and have to separate out the CO2. It would be easy to tap into that. And O2 concentration is a mature technology, even if it hasn't flown in space yet.) The dry waste store would be a valuable asset, and at some point I think you would want to start composting and generating soil, as the planned hydroponic growth requires mineral nutrient solutions which become a resupply issue, but that could wait for a while.

          Also, the MIT team did their best to model the habitat as closely as possible to what they thought Mars One was planning, and went so far as to write to them for details, but never heard back. I don't believe that the plan on the Mars One website explicitly mentions a dry waste store, but it does show hydroponics and doesn't show composting, so it was a good modeling choice.

          Finally, the biological simulation code that the MIT team used doesn't have a composting module, presumably because NASA didn't ask for one when they commissioned the work.

  21. Tommy Pock

    I know reality TV

    So that'll be two blondes, two brunettes, a token Asian man, two body builders, two extremely camp, shrieking men, an ageing American model and a blind Scotsman with one arm.

  22. Anonymous Coward


    One of the earliest SF short stories I read was The Man Who Lost the Sea by Theodore Sturgeon, about a dying man reliving his life in his mind as he expires. The punch-line had a profound effect on me :

    "God," he cries, dying on Mars, "God, we made it!"

    Wind the clock forward 50-odd years, and the attitude here is "Moron", "Fool" etc.

    Jeez. We're not going anywhere, are we?

    1. MrT

      Re: Sad

      Exactly. I know Hannah Earnshaw and she's none of the narrow-minded throwaway insults I read here. There may have been a few of the Big Brother type of entrant in the early stages, but I dare say most people who actually know any of the last 100 wouldn't be using words like 'moron' to describe them.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had my doubts ...

    When I read this

    That said - fair play to them. Proof of the pioneer spirit

  24. Down not across Silver badge

    If they actually go anywhere

    The ship isn't going to be named Ascension by any chance?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it just a coincidence that Endemol sounds like a laxative?

    Just a thought

  26. thomas k.

    Red shirts

    Wouldn't it be somewhat more practical to dress them in bright blue or lime green shirts - you know, something that would stand out against the background rather than blend in with it - in case they collapse when outside it will be easier to spot them.

    1. fandom

      Re: Red shirts

      You didn't get the reference? Really?

      Well, ok then.

  27. Charles Smith


    You are waiting at a conference table in a City office meeting room. Dressed in your best interview suit, you look up as a manager clone walks in and offers you a choice:

    You can spend the rest of your life working at this office and walking over London Bridge at 8:05 each morning,


    You can live on Mars.

    1. Sykobee

      Re: Choices

      There's loads of pubs around London Bridge.

      Easy choice.

  28. MrXavia

    "Growing crops within the proposed habitat could generate dangerously high levels of oxygen,"

    I find that constant claim odd...

    Oxygen Concentration technology is in daily use in domestic homes for people who need oxygen to live... why not just concentrate the excess oxygen and store it.....

    1. kdhilliard

      The MIT team applied a strict interpretation to Mars One's claim that their life support units will "be very similar to those units which are fully functional on-board the International Space Station", and required that all elements of the life support system in their model be based on technology which has already flown in space.

      Yes, oxygen concentration technology is very mature and is widely used, but it hasn't flown in space. But it almost did.

      The high pressure O2 tanks on the ISS which are used to recharge the Portable Life Support Systems of the EMU (EVA) suits used to be refilled from tanks on the Space Shuttle. With the impending retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet, NASA designed CASEO, the Cabin Air Separator for EVA Oxygen system. This was an oxygen concentrator and high pressure compressor system which would have been used to refill those high pressure O2 tanks. In the end NASA decided that it would be simpler not to fly CASEO but to instead send up high pressure refill tanks in the resupply flights, so they developed the NORS (Nitrogen / Oxygen Recharge System) 6000 psi tanks. Had the trade study gone the other way and had NASA chosen to fly CASEO, the MIT team would have included it in their model and the results of their paper would have been considerably different.

      What is even sillier is that it really comes down to a matter of semantics. Is O2 removal part of the life support system and must therefore have already flown in space, or is it part of the plant growth system and may then be held to the lower standards that were applied to the ISRU systems? Yes, it affects the habitat atmosphere and thus interacts with life support functions, but were it not for the bug in their modeling software (described in my comment above) the MIT team would have realized that for 100% crop growth they need both CO2 injection and O2 removal. CO2 injection is clearly not part of life support but is instead part of the ISRU & Plant Growth systems, and its companion, O2 removal, belongs there as well. Different TRL levels then apply and it wouldn't have been an issue.

      The O2 excess problem of the MIT paper does not point out an issue with the Mars One architecture as much as it points out an error in the MIT team's own modeling. This is understandable since they have more experience in modeling spacecraft than in modeling extraterrestrial farms, but section 4.3 of NASA's Advanced Life Support Baseline Values and Assumptions Document, a document they reference, makes it clear that, "If approximately 50% or more of the food, by dry mass, is produced on site, all the required air can be regenerated by the same process." By extrapolation, 100% crop growth is going to require both CO2 injection and O2 removal. This is an area where Life Support, Plant Growth, and ISRU intersect. Applying the higher TRL requirement certainly led to a more sensational result, but it was a poor choice.

      1. cray74

        Excellent write-up, kdhilliard. Thank you.

  29. James 51

    There was a reality TV show (on C4 I think) that mixed actors and real morons and pretended to send them into space. Thankfully after half an episode even my wife found it too painful to watch and turned it off. Perhaps this is the reboot. Found it:

  30. Kaltern


    I have this evil idea of extending the Truman Show and combining it with Space Cadets.... so you take these 'moronauts', put them through a year or 2 of vigourous 'training', involving stupid team games and a diary room.

    Then after that's finished, pick the first 10 to go to Mars... put them in a 'special capsule' that will eliminate all problems of interstellar travel, including 'artificial gravity', I dunno, spinning the capsule or something. Anyway, there's another 9 months of quality TV, except the diary room would be remote conferencing..

    Then after the 9 months, they strap in, let the hydraulics do their thing, bump them around a bit and Congratulations, Welcome to Mars. And then transfer them to a huge Mars Dome, like the Truman Show, only more red.

    Dear God, what have I done?

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: Truman

      I had the idea that this would actually be some sort of Truman Show/Capricorn One hybrid. I certainly don't believe this mission will happen as currently being touted.

  31. JimmyPage

    Nigel Kneale would be proud ...

    In the future, society is divided between 'low-drives' that equate with the labouring classes and 'hi-drives' who control the government and media. The low-drives are controlled by a constant broadcast of pornography that the hi-drives are convinced will pacify them, though one hi-drive, Nat Mender (Tony Vogel), believes that the media should be used to educate the low-drives. After the accidental death of a protester during the Sex Olympics gets a massive audience response, the Co-ordinator Ugo Priest (Leonard Rossiter) decides to commission a new programme. In The Live Life Show, Nat Mender, his partner Deanie (Suzanne Neve) and their daughter Keten (Lesley Roach) are stranded on a remote Scottish island while the low-drive audience watches. Mender's former colleague, Lasar Opie (Brian Cox), realising that “something got to happen”, decides to spice up the show by introducing a psychopath, Grels (George Murcell) to the island. When Grels goes on a murderous rampage, Ugo Priest is horrified when the audience reacts with laughter to the slaughter and The Live Life Show is deemed a triumph.

    1. James 51

      Re: Nigel Kneale would be proud ...

      That show is credited with creating the concept of reality television. Pity about the name. When I try to explain what it is they automatically assume I think that the 'dirty digger' controlled TV in the 60s and stop listening.

  32. Firvulag
    Paris Hilton

    Spaces Cadets II the return of the numpties

    Three contestants have spoken of their disbelief after being fooled into thinking they went into space for the UK reality show Space Cadets. The three believed they had blasted off from a cosmonaut training camp in Russia, but were in fact in a fake spaceship in a warehouse in Suffolk

    Spot any similarities ?

    Paris because she goes more than once

  33. Joey

    It's all a scam

    Sounds to me like the Lads from Lagos have drempt up a new revenue stream. I'm not buying this!

  34. Eddy Ito

    ... while offering no detailed plans of its own to explain the science behind its project.

    Science? This is TV, we don't need no steenking science!

  35. A. Coatsworth

    Donner Party


    ... that's all

  36. rh587

    The MIT Paper gamed it out?

    The MIT paper opened with this statement in the abstract:

    "That being said, the ISRU technology required to produce nitrogen, oxygen, and water on the surface of Mars is at a relatively low Technology Readiness Level (TRL), so such findings are preliminary at best."

    Which is them saying "you can't do it tomorrow, but if the technology is developed it might work". They even recognise that such technological development and demonstration is included in the Mars One plan.

    The proposed launch date is 2024 - 9 years away.

    In 1960, the technology required to carry humans to the moon, down to the surface and back was also at a "relatively low Technology Readiness Level (TRL)".

    But sure enough, in 1969 Neil Armstrong landed (probably, if it wasn't all on a sound stage).

    Heck, the iPad 1 was only released in September 2010 - less than 5 years ago. Look at how the world has changed since then. The way we work, the way we communicate. The world's moving fast.


    I don't think this is actually going to happen. Endemol are not going to bankroll this to the tune of $4.5bn, and they haven't the resource to put together a Project Apollo-level R&D effort to get the pieces in place in time.

    I do however object to a paper that describes the technology as merely immature (along with raising concerns over certain points of mission architecture) being presented as evidence that the whole thing is doomed to failure.

    I think Elon and SpaceX are more likely to actually make it happen, but lets not write this whole thing off as impossible. It is possible. It's just really difficult, and quite expensive.

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