Surviving Mars – How to Obtain The Watney Challenge Achievement

I was surprised to see only 1.4% of players have unlocked The Watney Challenge achievement. It’s not overly difficult, if you set everything up just right. I’ll go over what I did in the guide. With this method, I unlocked it on my first try.

The Watney Challenge Achievement Guide

Mission Setup

Configure a new mission using the images below as a guide.

Sponsor: International Mars Mission – You may as well take all the funding you can get on this one.

Commander: Psychologist – To help your lonely new Martian stay sane.

Game Rules: Each of these 8 rules improve your chances or speed things up and none of them disable achievements.

  • No Events – we don’t need events for this so turn them off.
  • Prefab Colony – free structures, why not?
  • Fast Rockets – why wait for supplies if you don’t have to?
  • Fast Scanning – why wait for scans if you don’t have to?
  • Increased Production – more production = good.
  • More Applicants – more chances that you’ll get an ideal candidate.
  • No Disasters – we don’t need a meteor hitting the dome, right?
  • Amateurs – we won’t need any specialists.

Build, Wait, Win

Site: I chose Elysium Alpha and landed at the pre-exposed area at bottom right.

Your First Rocket

  • Remove the RC Commander.
  • Add drones until you have 15 on board.
  • Put any remaining space toward orbital probes.

Your Second Rocket

  • Before you even land, request another cargo rocket.
  • Load it with 5 drones and 55 or 60 concrete.
  • Send it.

Your Third Rocket

  • Before you even land, request yet another cargo rocket.
  • Load it with 3 advanced sterling generators & 3 moisture evaporators & any food that will fit.
  • Send it.

Your First Cargo Pod

  • Before you even land, request a cargo pod for $100M.
  • Load it with 2 fuel refineries any food that will fit.
  • Send it.


  • Use existing and arriving probes to expose more of the area at bottom right.
  • Land near the concrete deposit(s), build universal, concrete and metal depots.
  • Create a transport route for your RC Transport that gathers metal from the surrounding area then drops it off at the metal depot.

Break Ground

  • Land all your rockets – away from each other but within drone range.
  • Build a concrete extractor. One is enough.
  • Build a self sufficient dome.
  • Build 3 Fuel Refinery/Moisture pairs
  • Deploy Sterling Generators and run power lines/pipes as needed.

Dome Time

  • Wait for everything outside the dome to finish construction and make sure it all works.
  • Build one house, one small grocer and as many parks as you want. At least 1.
  • That’s all you need.

Draft Pick

  • Find a colonist with no flaws and 2 or more of these perks Rugged, Composed, Nerd, Religious, Hippie.
  • Load just that one colonist into a passenger rocket and send it.
  • Land the rocket and watch your guy or gal walk to their new, lonely, glass prison.


  • If your colonist has Nerd, scan the anomalies in the area to complete research items and boost his/her morale. If not, that’s ok – mine did not have Nerd and he still made it.
  • At this point, just put it on the fastest game speed and keep an eye on things.
  • Wait 9 sols.

You Win.

That’s all folks. Couldn’t be simpler, IMHO. The image below shows what my base looked like when the achievement was won, for reference.

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