Mars One Solicits Payloads for 2018 Lander

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

AMERSFOORT, The Netherlands, June 30, 2014 (Mars One PR) – Mars One is extending a formal invitation to universities, research bodies, and companies to contribute to the payload of the 2018 unmanned Mars Lander. The best ideas will be chosen by a panel of experts. This mission will act as a staging point for the first-ever human mission to the red planet in 2025.

Mars One is soliciting proposals for four demonstration payloads that will demonstrate technologies for the human mission in 2025, proposals for one payload that will be elected in a world wide university competition, and proposals for two payloads that are for sale to the highest bidder. These last two payloads can be used for scientific experiments, marketing activities or anything inbetween.

“We are opening our doors to the scientific community in order to source the best ideas from around the world,” said Arno Wielders, co-founder and chief technical officer of Mars One. “The ideas that are adopted will not only be used on the lander in 2018, but will quite possibly provide the foundation for the first human colony on Mars. For anyone motivated by human exploration, there can be no greater honor than contributing to a manned mission to Mars.”

The payloads will be part of the Mars One lander that will be launched in August 2018. The lander will be built on the same platform that was used for the 2007 NASA Phoenix mission. Mars One contracted Lockheed Martin, who also built the Phoenix spacecraft, to develop the mission concept study for the 2018 lander.

The four demonstration payloads, university competition payload and two payloads for sale are as follows.

Demonstration payloads: Mars One will send four experiments to demonstrate some of the technologies that are important for the successful permanent human settlement of Mars:

  • A soil acquisition experiment that will collect soil for water production;
  • A water extraction experiment that will extract water from the Martian soil;
  • A thin film solar panel will demonstrate the possibility of generating the settlement’s energy by only using sunlight for power;
  • A camera system which, in combination with a Mars-synchronous communications satellite, will enable Mars One to send a live video feed from Mars to Earth. Everyone on Earth will be able to take a ‘real time’ look on Mars.

University competition payload: One payload selected from the entries of universities worldwide will be sent to the surface of Mars on board of the 2018 Lander. Mars One invites teams from any university around the world to submit a payload proposal. Proposals can include scientific experiments, technology demonstrations or any other exciting idea. The Mars One community members will have an important vote in the selection of the competing university submissions and will elect the winning payload. University teams can submit their notice of intent to participate in this competition on the following page:

Bas Lansdorp, Co-founder & CEO of Mars One said, “The brightest young minds of our planet are being invited to participate in Mars One’s first Mars lander. This is an opportunity for university teams to launch an experiment not just to space, but to the surface of Mars. We do this to inspire students to believe that anything is possible. We’re not only looking for scientific proposals but also for outreach or educational ones. Mars One’s community will determine which payload flies to Mars in an online vote.”

Payloads for sale: Mars One offers two payload opportunities for paying mission contributors. Proposals can take the form of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations, marketing and publicity campaigns, or any other suggested payload. “Previously, the only payloads that have landed on Mars are those which NASA has selected,” said Bas Lansdorp, “We want to open up the opportunity to the entire world to participate in our mission to Mars by sending a certain payload to the surface of Mars.”

The launch of the lander will happen in less than four years time. This sets an ambitious schedule for the selection, development and delivery of the payloads. The schedule for the selection phase of the payloads and further information concerning the proposals can be found in the Request For Proposals (RFP) document, and the Proposal Information Package (PIP).

The evaluation process of all payloads will be performed by Mars One in close collaboration with its prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, and specific advisers of Mars One. Mars One will enlist the help of other experts as necessary to ensure viable payloads are selected.

About Mars One
Mars One is a not-for-profit foundation that will establish permanent human life on Mars. Human settlement on Mars is possible today with existing technologies. Mars One’s 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 Mars One can be found at:

  • therealdmt

    This will be amazing if they pull this off.

    Their human settlement plans I never expect to see, but just sending a private lander to Mars – wow, that would really be an accomplishment (not to mention, one that could also possibly spur on others).

  • Hug Doug

    agreed. regardless of whether or not Mars One succeeds in doing anything else, an actual ISRU test on Mars is something that we’ve been needing to do for a long time now.

  • Michael J. Listner

    Except for a brief blurb about “highest bidder” there is no mention of whether they are on target for putting together the funding to get this on the launch pad. Then there is the issue of availability of an Atlas V. Congress is talking about essentially outlawing the RD-180 and with national security missions taking precedence for remaining Atlas Vs, they will have to opt for another launcher that may cost more or less than the Atlas V. Talking about the hardware is interesting, but show me the money.

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Well the RD-180 has been apparently banned by Russia for military payloads so it should be available for this mission. But, some in Congress is seeking to ban it altogether. Not sure how that will work out.
    Yes money? It really does always come down to that.
    SpaceX might be available to provide a launcher for them. FH will need a higher energy US for a Mars mission if I’m not mistaken or maybe even Raptor will be available by then but EM’s schedule says 10-12 years for their full-blown missions.
    Lots of unknowns.

  • Dennis

    Well, apperently India also has a (rather cheap) launcher capable of putting payloads en route to Mars… could also be an option 🙂

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    FH with the F9 upper stage can put 13,200 kg to Mars, although SpaceX no longer list a price, but it used to be a little over $130 million. The $85 million option might well be sufficient for this Mars One payload. We know that the Atlas V would be somewhere north of $160 million.
    I don’t recall the hoped for price of the lander (anyone else remember?), but I don’t Lockheed getting out of bed in the morning for less than $100 million. More likely, this lander mission will cost them somewhere around $300-400 million. But if they can successfully land a privately funded payload on Mars and get back visuals and science, their TV deal might well pay for it.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    According Mars One, the baseline launch vehicle is the Atlas V in the 401 configuration. Since the Mars One lander is basically a clone of the 350 kg Phoenix lander, even the Falcon 9 ver 1.1 is more than adequate. After all the Phoenix lander used a Delta II 7925 LV. No need for the FH..

  • Michael J. Listner

    Yeah, I was waiting for the “Space X” can do it. The reality is if they are going have the launcher available for a 2018 launch they need to order it now; they can’t wait a year or two down the road and expect Space X to whip one up. Personally, I don’t think this will launch because of the aforementioned funding problems, so the discussion is probably moot.

  • richard_schumacher

    Betcha a dollar that they never again use that Rube Goldberg skyhook landing system.

  • Hug Doug

    it will be used again at least once, for the NASA 2020 Mars rover.

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Yeah, it’s IMHO a pity they are doing yet another rover. Guess they can’t afford the next step which would logically be … no, no, not a manned mission … a sample return mission.
    The skycrane landing system is a pretty impressive piece of engineering. Risky but impressive. Hope if the mission doesn’t get cancelled, that the gods are on their side again.

  • Hug Doug

    well, there’s been talk of putting a sample cache canister on the 2020 rover.

    it would look something like this:

    and it is currently still included in the current plans for the 2020 rover. see page 16 –

    based on that pdf, the evaluation of the surplus MSL hardware is well underway for the 2020 rover. i wouldn’t anticipated it getting cancelled.

    anyway, if they do include a sample cache canister on the 2020 rover, they’d have to send a sample return lander / rocket to Mars 2 or 4 years later to bring it back to Earth.

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Good to know. Thanks, I hope they do decide to do this as I think it would add considerable value to the mission.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    Waste of time and effort for the 2020 rover mission. I reckon it’s unlikely that they will ever retrieve that cache. If they can only just about land a 1 tonne rover somewhere inside a 50 km landing ellipse, what tech are they gonna use to pinpoint land a cannister collection rover and sample return rocket.

    Presumably it will require a bigger launcher to deliver more mass to Mars. And with that capability, why not use that mission to collect samples. Yet again, it’s time, money and effort solving the wrong problems.

  • Hug Doug

    if the cache canister is included in the 2020 rover mission, they will definitely have a mission to retrieve it 2 or 4 years later. anyway, it’s not set in stone yet. they still have a few years to make a decision on that.

    the 2020 rover itself could bring the sample cache to the return rocket lander, even if it lands several kilometers away. the Curiosity landing ellipse was 19 km x 6.5 km, and it landed fairly close to the center of it.

    and there has been some talk of using SpaceX’s Dragon’s (as yet undemonstrated) precision landing ability to use for a sample return mission. yes, they could use that mission to collect a sample, as well, but having samples from multiple sites would provide a much broader look at Martian geology. and they could probably do both!

  • windbourne

    Not sure why u dislike it. When land on mars that will probably be the main way to move things around for any distance.

  • windbourne

    Sample return will happen. Personally, I would rather send mission too look for life before sample return.

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Yeah that would be good as well but better yet, defining and creating the capability to provide for footprints and a long-term mission base.
    Btw, do we even know what to look for when looking for ‘life’. Our form of ‘life’ might be different for a Mars life-form.

  • windbourne

    Well, you are right. BUT, I think that we can do several things:
    1) assume that life is similar to ours, and try various types of media. After all, we are far more concerned with life that can cause us or the earth harm. In particular, I would absolutely want to see what grows on a blood agar plate.

    2) without ppl on mars with a variety of tools, we will never fully know what is there. Just because we get a negative, does not mean that there is no life.

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Yes it’s a really interesting problem that probably won’t be answered for some time. Probably well after I’m out of the picture anyway.
    But, would be great to be around when EM sets down there.