The not-for-profit company, which plans to establish a colony on Mars, will launch a communication satellite and a robotic rover towards the Red Planet in 2018.

The 2018 mission is a first step in a series of missions that will ultimately establish a manned presence on Mars.

Mars One has contracted with Lockheed Martin to build the robotic lander, and with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. ( SSTL ) for the communications satellite that will orbit Mars.

The mission will provide a proof-of-concept prior to human settlement, which is the eventual goal of Mars One.

The lander will have the ability to scoop Martian soil samples with a robotic arm. It will also perform an experiment to extract water from the Martian soil, and an experiment to demonstrate how thin film solar panels can be deployed and operated from the planet’s surface.

Mars One Press Release