Mars One, the highly anticipated private mission to colonize Mars in the next decade, is the next in a long line of private space missions that highlight the important connection between NASA and the private sector. The first phase of the mission is set to launch in 2018, and it will consist of an unmanned rover and landing system modeled after NASA’s Phoenix lander.
The Phoenix mission lasted from May to November 2008. It studied the history of water on the Red Planet and searched for evidence of habitability. According to Ed Sedivy, a civil space chief engineer at Lockheed Martin and the program manager for the Phoenix lander flight system, “Phoenix is a proven delivery system…there are very few impediments to continuing on beyond the study concept.” He also said that the first phase of Mars One will be very similar to Phoenix, with a robotic digging arm to excavate soil and an experiment to extract water.
Clearly, NASA’s influence reaches far beyond its own missions. NASA is a pioneer in all aspects of the space industry, setting precedents for the science and technology that continues to shape our world. With a Penny4NASA, the space industry as a whole will go even further.
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