December 10, 2013 – Mars One held a press conference today in which they announced the signing of Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) as designers for the first planned proof of concept mission scheduled for 2018. The goal to establish a communication satellite orbiting Mars and the placement of a robotic lander on the surface. Lockheed Martin will build the lander. SSTL will build the satellite.
In addition Mars One announced the beginning of an Indiegogo campaign to raise $400,000 U.S. over the next two months. The deadline is January 25, 2014 for this first round of funding to pay for Lockheed Martin and SSTL mission concept studies.
In choosing Lockheed Martin to develop the lander, Mars One hopes to take advantage of their previous NASA experience with the 2007 successful Phoenix mission, the lander that first showed us that it snows on the Red Planet. SSTL, a British company, is known as an experienced builder of small satellite technology using commercial off-the-shelf subsystems. They have had 41 successful launches and deployments and have developed a standardized satellite production line to build systems weighing under 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds).
Mars One has also announced that they are in the process of building an online platform for those who want to get involved in contributing to the project. I assume if they exceed their current Indiegogo campaign target that they will use those funds to help meet that challenge. You can donate as little as $110 or as much as $25,000 to receive a variety of perks from Mars One. For early birds with $90 to spare you can be one of 100 to get your Tweet 140-character message printed on the parachute of the Mars One lander.