The plan to start a colony on the planet Mars, funded by reality television, had a filip in December when the Mars One not-for-profit organisation involved announced that it had signed design contracts with two major space companies. A $250,000 mission concept study contract has been awarded to Lockheed Martin for an unmanned lander. The mission would extract Martian soil and examine whether there was enough moisture to extract water from it. The second design concept study contract worthe the Euro equivalent of $80,000 has been awarded to the European small spacecraft firm Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) – a small spacecraft design subsidiary of EADS Astrium (recently renamed Airbus) for the design of a broadband telecommuncations relay spacecraft designed to orbit Mars.
Update Jan 2014: Out of 200,000 hopeful applicants, the field has now been whittled down to just 1,054 individuals strangely keen to go on a one way trip to Mars.