VIDEO:  Mars Colony Project hopeful unmanned mission to be launched by 2018

12/10/2013 - 00:00

 An ambitious project that aims to send volunteers on a one-way trip to Mars unveiled plans for the first private unmanned mission to the Red Planet today (Dec. 10), a robotic vanguard to human colonization that will launch in 2018.

The non-profit Mars One foundation has inked deals with Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) to draw up mission concept studies for the private robotic flight to Mars. Under the plan, Lockheed Martin will build the Mars One lander, and SSTL will build a communications satellite, the companies' representatives announced at a news conference here today.

"We're very excited to have contracted Lockheed Martin and SSTL for our first mission to Mars," Mars One co-founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp said in a statement. "These will be the first private spacecraft to Mars and their successful arrival and operation will be a historic accomplishment."