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Private Mars One Mission Contracts Lockheed For Exploratory Mission

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the faster-than-taking-the-bus dept.

Mars 35

coondoggie writes "Private Mars mission planners said today that Lockheed Martin is on board to build the spacecraft that would land a technology demonstration robot on the Red Planet by 2018. The Mars One group ultimately wants to establish a human outpost on Mars. The lander robot would use technology Lockheed previously built for NASA's Phoenix lander, which touched down on Mars in 2008. The Mars One lander will evaluate the use of the Phoenix design for the Mars One mission and identify any modifications that are necessary to meet future requirements. In addition, the mission would go a long way toward determining the cost and schedule of future missions."

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35 comments

Will they pay them with Bitcoin? (3, Funny)

gapagos (1264716) | about 7 months ago | (#45655577)

Because otherwise I am still struggling to understand how Mars One would ever be financially viable.

Re:Will they pay them with Bitcoin? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 7 months ago | (#45655779)

That the mega-rich have mega-toys seems as good an explanation as any.

Re:Will they pay them with Bitcoin? (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 7 months ago | (#45655865)

That the mega-rich have mega-toys seems as good an explanation as any.

Whatever works.

Re:Will they pay them with Bitcoin? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 7 months ago | (#45656065)

That the mega-rich have mega-toys seems as good an explanation as any.

I assume that gapagos' question, to the degree that it is fully serious, is a reference to the fact that, in stark contrast to all the hip, cool, oh-so-startup space ventures, Lockheed Martin is one of the aerospace contractors that you go to if you want to deliver a project on a nation-state-sized budget, with overruns to be expected...

While Lockeed is technically private, and only acts like a parasitic appendage of the US government, they aren't exactly a poster child for the 'zOMG! Free Enterprise Innovation will get us into space for cheap!' school.

Re:Will they pay them with Bitcoin? (2)

gapagos (1264716) | about 7 months ago | (#45656861)

Let me assure you, my question was sarcastic. I was saying that unless they invested all their money at Bitcoin when it was worth $0.10 and are now "ZOMGS we have so much $$MONEYS$$$" like typical early bitcoin adopters, I don't see how they could possibly have secured enough financing for their project.

Re:Will they pay them with Bitcoin? (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about 7 months ago | (#45656921)

Lockeed has designed, built, and delivered ground breaking avionic technology for over 50 years. They are the poster child of Free Enterprise Innovation. We will not enter space in any meaningful way until the technology needed to protect and sustain a human being become more mature. We have had the technology to plant someone's ass on Mars ever since the 60's. Supporting someone once they are there is an entirely different animal. The technology could advance rapidly if we wanted to spend unlimited funds in a crash project but even then why would you pay all that money to put someone on Mars when the unmanned landers already there are capable of providing the same amount of data.

Re:Will they pay them with Bitcoin? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 7 months ago | (#45669597)

I have nothing against Lockheed's engineering prowess. My point is that the major claim to novelty of the 'OMG Private Space Exploration!!!' proponents has been that exciting, new, innovative, start-up technology would be crazy cheap compared to the 'We are the smiley civilian face of the ICBMs and deep, deep, pockets side of the DoD' style of space travel.

Lockheed is a lot of things; but crazy cheap is not one of them.

Seeing a private-space-startup start buying from Lockheed is sort of like seeing a web or 'cloud' startup start buying mainframes from IBM. It's not that IBM is a bad company, or that their mainframes don't have superb records for uptime, reliability, and capability for certain workloads, it's that that's a good indicator that they aren't having the luck they hoped for in using innovative new techniques to render obsolete the old, reliable, and stratospherically expensive gear that they were attempting to disrupt...

Re:Will they pay them with Bitcoin? (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 7 months ago | (#45656109)

Because otherwise I am still struggling to understand how Mars One would ever be financially viable.

Really, are you serious? They get funding from all over the place, and use it to develop "stuff for things" and end up living off it that money until the next go round. If all else fails, they sell their research (usually back to) to the military. It's all money in the end; that's what it's all about.

Re:Will they pay them with Bitcoin? (1)

gapagos (1264716) | about 7 months ago | (#45656435)

They do? Do you have sources? Because all I can find in their list of contributors are a bunch of small businesses that I've never heard of.
http://www.mars-one.com/en/partners/contributors [mars-one.com]
I bet most of their revenue comes from applicants fees and selling T-shirts.

Re:Will they pay them with Bitcoin? (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 7 months ago | (#45677527)

No sources, sadly (I suspect this is by design). But I think I covered that when I said "stuff for things". You covered that when you said "a bunch of small businesses that I've never heard of." We agree.

high-five brutha

Mars One has raised $183,870 toward its mission... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45655581)

...and has yet to release a budget for its program. For comparison, NASA anticipates launching another Mars rover in 2020 at a total cost of $1.5 billion.

see: http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/12/mars-ones-shipment-of-humans-to-the-red-planet-is-delayed-two-years/ [arstechnica.com]

Protection (1)

mavriikk (3290887) | about 7 months ago | (#45655597)

I hope they pack a 3D printer with them. Could need to make guns if we come across any martian folk.

Re:Protection (1)

JavaLord (680960) | about 7 months ago | (#45660009)

I hope they pack a 3D printer with them. Could need to make guns if we come across any martian folk.

But can you use a 3D printer to make a 3D printer?

Without money... (4, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 months ago | (#45655599)

Without funding, this is all just more smoke and mirrors from Mars One - and they don't have the money to even do a decent set of concept studies.

Re:Without money... (1)

edxwelch (600979) | about 7 months ago | (#45656379)

Mars One is a very successful enterprise. It's goal was never to actually get to Mars, but to gain publicity by playing on the public's naivity and need to dream about space travel.

Re:Without money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45656795)

It's probably Space Cadets [youtube.com] all over again.

Re:Without money... (1)

crunchygranola (1954152) | about 7 months ago | (#45656409)

Or possibly they simply have no interest in doing a decent set of concept studies.

I suspect that over time, all we will ever hear is that their revenue is going into "contracts" without any actual mission design ever being presented (and without any transparency into their funding and spending). The fact that it has incorporated as a Dutch private foundation apparently means they have no requirement for any public disclosure.

Can you imagine.. (3, Interesting)

Havokmon (89874) | about 7 months ago | (#45655611)

I think if they get enough people up there, and things go to hell, all of a sudden we'll have an 'emergency disaster relief' effort to get supplies Mars - and all of a sudden many of those hurdles we're fretting over (including costs) will become speed bumps.

It's like a Trial by Fire combined with forced capitulation. Like when a (real) hurricane strikes and (justified) conservative concerns about welfare are overridden by the (relatively) immediate need for support.

Re:Can you imagine.. (2)

Defenestrar (1773808) | about 7 months ago | (#45655733)

Personally I always thought Mars Direct was a much better plan. I heard Zubrin talk about it once - seemed reasonable, not dependent on TV ratings, and you already had some proof of concept and a base of operations before you ever launched people at the big red rock. Of course the details is where you keep the devils and I think Murphy would be all over this one.

I can see a place for heroic leaps for science - including the possibility of a one way trip off the planet, but I'd have my doubts about the sort of people who would sign up for less than even a one cheek effort just to walk around a bit before needing a rescue which would never happen on time

What's worse is the precedent. Sure, as a culture we may be willing to put in a moon-shot effort if some legitimate (but corporate) Mars colony suffered disaster (which could be corrected by prompt Earth action). It's far less likely that we'd mobilize the effort if we're already practiced at letting "space junkies" die on their own recognizance.

Re:Can you imagine.. (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 7 months ago | (#45655801)

A Martian outpost is nothing like a hurricane strike. A hurricane strike is a natural disaster and natural disasters can happen anywhere. Volunteering to go on a dangerous mission to Mars is a conscious choice to go in harm's way. I, for one, am not going to foot a billion dollar tax bill because someone's hair brained scheme fell through. There is a point at which a "rescue effort" becomes too costly. To me, Mars is beyond our Search and Rescue obligation. My response to things going wrong on Mars would be "Sucks to be you. Looks like all those people, including me, who said you would die fairly quickly on Mars were right."

Re:Can you imagine.. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 7 months ago | (#45656085)

Are you saying that you wouldn't try to organize a brutal reality TV event where the colonists fight like animals, using only the airlock/bulkhead control systems and whatever tools can be fashioned into makeshift weapons, to monopolize the rapidly dwindling oxygen supply?

Re:Can you imagine.. (1)

confused one (671304) | about 7 months ago | (#45656501)

Since the best case scenario, with the best case (but untried) technology all ready in place, is more than 40 days to Mars, it'll be too late by the time you get there.

GM Tree! (2)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | about 7 months ago | (#45655641)

Put a tree up there! And a webcam! I will totally use it as my background!

Crowd funded? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45655711)

Lockheed Martin is not cheap. I also notice dthey are going to crowd fund some of their program. Did they give up on the reality TV show idea?

Open Source Rover? (1)

AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) | about 7 months ago | (#45655761)

Uninformed question here, but do they post the designs and technologies in the rovers for the public, or are they classified to any extent? I would think that once you've built one rover, that you could build and deploy a dozen for not *too* much more extra cost. Do those designs enter the public domain once the mission is complete? It would be great to have a portfolio of existing technologies that have proven to work on lunar or Martian environments and mass produce them for launch.

ITAR, no.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45658159)

Things that go into space, in general, are munitions, and subject to export controls of one sort or another.

This is most definitely true of the Mars Polar Lander, Phoenix (which was the original Mars 2001 lander, a copy of the ill fated Mars 98 polar lander, and basically stored until the later mission came up), and probably anything else that LMA would produce. If nothing else, most of the equipment bolted to the lander would be export controlled: deep space radios, thrusters, attitude control systems, etc.

Not to mention that the ability to successfully navigate to and land and do something useful on Mars is something that ONLY the US has done (Soviets crashed a few probes into Mars), and even the US is hardly 100%. That is pretty much the definition of a strategically important technology.

STOP giving these people press (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45655829)

It's a scam and a fraud, pure and simple. Please stop posting any stories from this organization.

They treat the massive technical challenges with a wave of the hand, saying "these companies say they'd make stuff for us so we just need monies." Lockheed would love to get paid money and make you something. However, you do have to actually tell them what to make. I have zero confidence anyone in the Mars One organization is competent to even begin to design specs.

Their entire business model is predicated on media spectacle. Literally by posting this story, you are playing into their hands.

Google "Mars One AMA" for the rest of the debunking points; I'm not going to re-post or reiterate all of them here.

Regarding missions to Mars (1)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | about 7 months ago | (#45655969)

I think that you should check out my homepage, see signature.

Re:Regarding missions to Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45663265)

Perhaps you're not aware that ACs can't see your sig, nor can people who have disabled them? Or that you can put your homepage where everyone CAN see it? Like, right next to where it says "journal", check some other commenters.

Gulf between their means and claimed ambitions (1)

geekpowa (916089) | about 7 months ago | (#45656293)

spacenews.com [spacenews.com] provides more useful info. Some interesting quotes regarding costs lifted from the article:

The contracts are for designs studies only and, at a combined value of only about $340,000, are a long way from a commitment to purchase space hardware.

Through merchandise sales and donations, Mars One had raised $183,870 as of Oct. 31, according to the company’s website.

Finally, more than 200,000 people applied to the company’s astronaut program, each of whom paid an application fee ranging from $5 to $75, depending on country of origin.

The Phoenix craft on which Mars One’s lander will be based cost NASA about $475 million to build.

The cost of the first crewed launch to Mars will be about $6 billion, Mars One estimates, with subsequent crew launches estimated at about $4 billion each, according to the company’s website.

If anything this press release reinforces my conviction that these guys lack the right stuff and won't even come remotely close. They raise 180k in merchandising, something in the vicinity of 10mil max in their 409 become a reality TV astronaut scam, and they need $6bill to deliver. This whole thing will fizzle out over a few years without any real or serious progress to their stated goal and the founders of it will put their hand on their hearts and insist that their endeavour was fair dinkum and could of succeeded all along.

Yeah, and I'm Prince of Nigeria (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45656829)

Clearly a professional scam, building on peoples hope and fears, using the latest techniques in legal money laundering.

Re:Yeah, and I'm Prince of Nigeria (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45657455)

I don't think you know what money laundering is.

Re:Yeah, and I'm Prince of Nigeria (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 7 months ago | (#45659307)

Hi! Great to catch you here. Your fucking wife is trying to give away all your money via Email, for a considerable time now. Weren't you aware of that?!

I don't believe in Mars (1)

Andrey Welsh (3460277) | about 7 months ago | (#45658699)

Sorry, but I think it's just a myth...
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