Mars One 2018 Lander

Today in Washington, Mars One, the Dutch nonprofit that wants to send the first humans to Mars, held a press conference to announce its latest project: a unmanned Mars mission.

This one is a lot less ambitious than the proposed $6b manned mission, and since it involves modifications of existing and proven spacecraft designs, it just might work. But only if the group can raise the money it needs to pull it off.

Lockheed Martin is on board to build a lander based its Phoenix Mars lander, and Surrey Satellite will build the first synchronous communications satellite to be placed in Mars orbit, which will allow real-time (at least as far as the delay imposed by the speed of light allows) streaming video from the surface of Mars to the Web.

All of this is contingent on Mars One raising tens of millions of dollars (or more—they’re not saying just how much they think they need) to pull it off.

Check out my Popular Mechanics article on the mission for more details, and then check out Mars One’s crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo; it’s already topped $17k just a few hours after the press conference.