[meteorite-list] Mars One Foundation Inks Deal With Lockheed, Surrey
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 15:05:53 -0800 (PST)
Mars One foundation inks deals with Lockheed, Surrey
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
December 11, 2013
A privately funded unmanned Mars mission will launch in 2018, officials
with the non-profit Mars One foundation announced Tuesday. The mission
will include an orbiting communications relay station, a lander equipped
with a robotic arm, water generating gear, experimental thin-film solar
panels and student experiments.
Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, Mars One founder and CEO, told reporters
the foundation has signed contracts with two major aerospace firms, Lockheed
Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology, to develop mission concept studies,
a first step toward eventual construction and launch.
The lander will be based on the design of the 2007 Phoenix Mars lander
that Lockheed Martin developed for NASA. The communications satellite
-- the first such "geostationary" comsat in orbit around the red planet
-- will incorporate technologies developed by Surrey and used in a variety
of operational spacecraft.
Lansdorp said the Lockheed Martin contract was valued at slightly more
than $250,000 while the Surrey agreement came to about $60,000.
Development of the actual spacecraft and the rocket, or rockets, needed
to launch them will be funded primarily by sponsors and corporate donors,
Lansdorp said, along with donations from the public through a crowd-funding
He would not disclose internal projections for the mission's eventual
cost other than to tell reporters he expected it to be less than NASA's
next Mars lander, the $425 million Phoenix-derived Insight mission scheduled
for launch in 2016.
The unmanned Mars One technology demonstration mission is a precursor
to the foundation's seemingly quixotic long-range goal of launching humans
to Mars starting in 2025, assuming funding and technology hurdles can
be overcome. The foundation envisions launching follow-on crews of four
astronauts every two years to establish a permanent outpost on the red
When Mars One started taking applications for future Mars travel last
spring. Lansdorp said the foundation had received more than 200,000 applications
from would-be astronauts and that those selected for the next round of
evaluations would be announced before the end of the year.
The Mars One mission concept calls for one-way flights by volunteers who
would spend the rest of their lives on the red planet.
Previous estimates for the cost of a manned mission to Mars start at $100
billion. But those estimates include landers and rockets to return visiting
crews to Earth, rather than a lifetime Mars colony.
In the meantime, Lansdorp said, the focus is on getting the 2018 mission
off the ground.
Ed Sedivy, chief engineer of civil space operations at Lockheed Martin
Space Systems, said company engineers and designers with experience building
NASA's Mars orbiters and landers already were working on the Mars One
2018 mission concept study.
The Mars One project "is the first privately funded planetary exploration
mission," he said. "If you think about that, that is really, really cool.
... This is the dawn of a new era of space exploration. Private funding
that supports the exploration of other planets is a concept that is really
Martin Sweeting, Surrey Satellite Technology chairman, said his company
has been "interested in driving the cost of exploration down and increasing
the tempo of exploration and widening participation for many years."
"We've been doing work in the past on projects to look at supporting sustained
human habitation on the moon, for example," he said. "Mars One is really
a logical step for us, and something we find exciting in trying to develop."
While the 2018 mission architecture is still being assessed, Sedivy said
the least expensive option would be to launch the Mars One lander and
orbiter on a single rocket. But that will depend on how much separation
is required between the orbiter's arrival and the lander's descent to
The Mars One communications satellite will be the first martian spacecraft
operating in a geostationary orbit that will permit continuous observations
of the landing site.
"It will function as a data relay from the surface of Mars to Earth,"
Lansdorp said. "It will be in a fixed location over the Mars lander, which
will allow a live video feed from the surface of Mars to Earth. We expect
this will bring [Mars] a lot closer to everybody on Earth. Anyone here
on Earth can log into our website and see what's it like on Mars."
While the comsat will be "nice to have," providing a continuous link between
the lander and the public on Earth, "it's crucial for our manned missions
because then we really need to have that 24/7 connection between Earth
and Mars," Lansdorp said.
The Phoenix-derivative lander will be equipped with a robot arm and camera
that will provide a live video feed from the surface, relayed back to
Earth by the Mars One communications satellite.
"It will carry a weather experiment and it will demonstrate the production
of liquid water on the surface of Mars," Lansdorp said. "And it will carry
a power experiment that will deploy a thin film solar panel on the surface
of Mars. We make use of thin film solar panels for our human mission,
and this will be the demonstrator of that."
A key element of the 2018 mission is participation by students around
the world. Mars One plans an international contest to select an experiment
designed by university students that will be launched aboard the lander.
The foundation also plans to organize STEM-type challenges to involve
younger students in a bid to "inspire kids into Mars exploration," Lansdorp
"This is very important for Mars One, because with these challenges on
our unmanned missions we can inspire young students even before we send
humans to Mars, which will, of course, be an even bigger source of inspiration
Received on Thu 12 Dec 2013 06:05:53 PM PST