article image

Mars One secures lead suppliers for its first mission to Mars

Jenny Winder, News Writer
Dec 12, 2013, 0:00 UTC

Sen—Mars One, a private foundation, has contracted Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) to develop mission concept studies. A Mars lander will be built by Lockheed Martin and a communications satellite will be built by SSTL.

The proposed 2018 demonstation mission will prove some of the technologies needed for the permanent human settlement on Mars that is the ultimate goal of the Mars One foundation.

Bas Lansdorp, M.Sc., Mars One Co-founder and CEO stated, "We're very excited to have contracted Lockheed Martin and SSTL for our first mission to Mars. Both are significant players in their field of expertise and have outstanding track records. These will be the first private spacecraft to Mars and their successful arrival and operation will be a historic accomplishment."

The Lockheed Martin lander will be based on the 2007 NASA Phoenix mission spacecraft which the company designed, built, tested and operated for NASA.

The Mars One lander will be able to scoop up Martian soil with a robotic arm and a water experiment will extract water from the Martian soil. A power experiment will demonstrate the deployment and operation of thin-film solar panels on the surface, and a camera on the lander will be used to make continuous video recordings.

"This will be the first private mission to Mars and Lockheed Martin is very excited to have been contracted by Mars One. This is an ambitious project and we’re already working on the mission concept study, starting with the proven design of Phoenix," said Ed Sedivy, Civil Space chief engineer at Lockheed Martin Space Systems.

Meanwhile the satellite will provide a high bandwidth communications system in a Mars synchronous orbit and will relay data and a live video feed from the lander on Mars back to Earth.

Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman of SSTL said: "SSTL believes that the commercialisation of space exploration is vital in order to bring down costs and schedules and fuel progress. This study gives us an unprecedented opportunity to take our tried and tested approach and apply it to Mars One's imaginative and exhilarating challenge of sending humans to Mars through private investment."

Mars One settlement concept. Image credit: Mars One

Arno Wielders, Co-founder and CTO of Mars One, said "With our 2018 missions, Mars One brings the settlement of Mars one step closer to reality. The demonstration of water production on Mars is crucial for manned missions. The live video feed from the surface camera will bring Mars closer to people on Earth. And with the STEM education challenges and university competitions planned on our lander, we will enthuse a whole new generation for Mars exploration, even before our first crew lands."

Mars One is in discussion with several partners interested to participate in specific components of the mission or to partner in the STEM and university challenges. They have also an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that enables people to participate in this mission to Mars.

Lansdorp said, "Our 2018 mission will change the way people view space exploration as they will have the opportunity to participate. They will not only be spectators, but also participants. We think it is important to involve people from all over the world in what we’re doing, and crowdfunding and crowdsourcing activities are important means to do that."