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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Before the Reality Show, Mars One Will Launch 2018 Unmanned Mission

• Popular Mechanica/Michael Belfiore
In a press conference in Washington, D.C. today, Netherlands-based nonprofit foundation Mars One announced that it plans to launch a privately funded unmanned mission to Mars in 2018.

Mars One has been planning a four-person manned mission, for which it has begun to select citizen astronauts from a pool of 200,000 applicants from around the world. The newly announced mission would be much less ambitious and more realistic to accomplish by the team’s self-imposed 2018 deadline. Two major aerospace companies—Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd., or SSTL—are already on board for concept studies. Now all that remains is to raise the money to build the hardware and launch it to Mars. No sweat.

"We believe that we are in very good shape to make this happen," Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorf said in the conference.

The unmanned mission is to consist of two separate vehicles, an orbiter and a lander. SSTL will build the orbiter. If successful, it would be the first satellite to orbit Mars in sync with the planet’s rotation so that it remains stationary in relation to a given region on the ground, just like communication satellites that stay in geosynchronous orbit of Earth.

Mars One Crowdfunding Campaign 2018 Mars Mission

Along with details of the 2018 mission, Mars One also announced a campaign to raise money for the mission on the Indiegogo crowd funding site. Within a couple of hours of the press conference, the campaign racked up close to $10,000 towards its $400,000 goal from more than 200 supporters.

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