Mar 05, 2015 07:39 PM EST
The private non-profit organization Mars One, which recently shortlisted 100 people for a one-way visit to Mars in the mid-2020s, has now silently stopped working on a pair of robotic missions that were scheduled to launch in 2018.
It was during December 2013, when the Dutch-based non-profit organization announced that it was working on a pair of robotic missions to send to Mars as precursors to its human expeditions.
One spacecraft would orbit the Red Planet and serve as a communications relay and the other spacecraft would land on the surface to test the technologies that are planned for later crewed missions.
According to Space News, Mars One had selected Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) to work on the concept studies of the planned missions. However, both companies have confirmed that they have not received any further contracts from Mars One to continue working on those missions.
Since December, Mars One had said very little about the pair of robotic missions. The last announcement related to these missions was in January when it announced the winner of a university competition to develop an experiment that would fly on the lander. The organization announced that the launch of the robotic missions is scheduled in 2018.
Bas Landsorp, the Mars One chief executive and co-founder mentions in an email that Mars One was focused on addressing the flaws with Mars One's designs that could result in the deaths of crewmembers within months of landing.
Mars One was made aware of these flaws by a study released by a student-led group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which examined several life support requirements for the crewed missions.
"Especially with the recent MIT (student) report, we're focusing on releasing the mission concepts study on life support systems by Paragon," says Bas Landsorp.
In addition to correcting the design flaws, Mars One has also been working to select the final crew members from the shortlisted 100 people. These 100 people will now be participating in "group challenges" which will then lead to a selection of six groups containing four people in each group.
These six groups will then be serving as the initial crews for the one-way missions to Mars that Mars One plans to start launching in 2024.
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