Mars One Contracts Lockheed Martin, Surrey Satellite for Mission Concept Studies

Mars One 2018 lander (Credit: Mars One)
Mars One 2018 lander (Credit: Mars One)

Amersfoort, 10th December 2013 (Mars One PR) — Mars One has secured lead suppliers for its first mission to Mars. The mission, slated for a 2018 launch, will include a robotic lander and a communications satellite. Mars One has contracted Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) to develop mission concept studies. The Mars lander will be built by Lockheed Martin and the communications satellite will be built by SSTL.

This 2018 mission will be a demonstration mission and will provide proof of concept for some of the technologies that are important for a permanent human settlement on Mars; the ultimate goal of the non-profit 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 successful 2007 NASA Phoenix mission spacecraft and will demonstrate some of the technologies required for the manned mission. Lockheed Martin has a distinct legacy of participating in nearly every NASA mission to Mars. For the Phoenix mission, the company designed, built, tested and operated the lander for NASA.

“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. “Having managed the Phoenix spacecraft development, I can tell you, landing on Mars is challenging and a thrill and this is going to be a very exciting mission.”

The lander will have the ability to scoop up Martian soil with a robotic arm similar to the Phoenix mission. 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.

The demonstration satellite will provide a high bandwidth communications system in a Mars synchronous orbit and will be used to relay data and a live video feed from the lander on the surface of 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.”

The lander will also carry the winner of a worldwide university challenge that Mars One will launch in 2014 and items from several Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education challenge winners.

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 decided to launch the lander and communications satellite in 2018, two years later than Mars One’s original schedule. This new schedule provides time for the development for the two spacecraft and for student participation in STEM and university challenges.

Mars One’s mission will not be financed by government-funded organizations. Instead, means of funding the mission include sponsorships and exclusive partnerships. 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. Mars One is also launching an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign that enables people to participate in this mission to Mars. Among other things, contributors will be granted voting rights for several mission decisions up for vote in the future, including the winners of the STEM and University Challenges.

“Landing the first humans on Mars should be everyone’s mission and not just the mission of one country or organization” said Lansdorp. “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 crowd funding and crowd sourcing activities are important means to do that.”

About Mars One

Mars One is a not-for-profit foundation that will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Human settlement on Mars is possible today with existing technologies. Mars One mission plan integrates components that are well tested and readily available from industry leaders worldwide. The first footprint on Mars and lives of the crew thereon will captivate and inspire generations; it is this public interest that will help finance this human mission to Mars.

More information about Lockheed Martin can be found at:

More information about SSTL can be found at:

  • Detective Jones

    lost in the shuffle is the crowdfunding campaign announcement with some really cool perks –

  • Dennis

    I am really not to sure about that crowdfunding campaign! The Golden Spike debacle is still quite fresh on the mind of the New Space community! And they weren’t even trying to raise money for something crucial in their program!

  • mzungu

    So, here is a company that do not even have the internal know-how on how to design a unmanned mission of sending a probe to Mars, and we are suppose to buy in to the idea that they figured out how to send people to Mars??

  • Hug Doug

    they don’t need internal know-how. the idea is to contract out to people with the know-how.

  • mzungu

    I was just wondering if they need to farm out such simple analysis, who did they use to come up with their original plans, calculating all the associated costs and the tech know-hows. If they can not do a simple analysis of a probe, what would be the types of errors that will creep into a larger mission analysis? would there be someone internal to spot the errors from contractors, or know enough to direct them.

    That aside, One way trip may sound reasonable, but if I am flying to Mars in a small cabin with a bunch of guys that smells like urine after 8 months, and knowing I won’t be coming back facing the consequences, don’t think I’ll settle for being the 2nd man on Mars. I’ll be sharpening my plastic spoons. đŸ˜€

  • Hug Doug

    what makes you think this is a simple analysis? they’re saying, we want 1. a communications relay satellite and 2. a lander that tests thin-film solar panels, and whether or not water is easily extracted from the Martian soil. then they contract out the design work. LM and SSTL work out the details for the design.

  • mzungu

    Simper than their planned manned mission(that I have assume have been analyzed, but doubt), is it not?

  • Hug Doug

    oh, yes. everything they want to do is doable, if they can get the funding to do it.

  • mzungu

    You can get cows to fly, if you get the right funding too.

  • Hug Doug

    yep. herd ’em into an airplane.