Would you watch an interplanetary reality show about the colonization of Mars? Well, if Mars One, a project launched by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, is successful, you could be watching such a show in 2025 -- and it could star Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT). Here's what you need to know.
To boldly go ...
Mars One's ultimate goal is to colonize Mars -- and to make a reality show in the process. But before that can happen, Mars One has to have an unmanned lander demonstrate that such a thing is possible. This is what's known as a proof-on-concept mission. But before that can happen, Mars One has to figure out how to get a lander to Mars in the first place.
The lander that Mars One wants to send to Mars is based on the Phoenix spacecraft, which NASA had land on Mars in 2008. More importantly, Lockheed designed, built, and tested, the Phoenix. As such, it makes perfect sense to contract with Lockheed to conduct a "mission concept study," which will determine what modifications need to be made to reach Mars One's goals -- namely, demonstrating that technology has advanced enough to send humans to Mars, and conducting experiments -- including looking for possible ways of creating water on Mars. For Lockheed, this contract is worth $250,000, and while that's chump change for this titan of defense, the end prize could be significantly bigger.
6 billion reasons to go to Mars
If all goes according to plan, Mars One's lander will touch down on the Red Planet in 2018. And following a successful mission, Mars One hopes to have the first humans land on Mars in 2025. That mission will cost an estimated $6 billion. Suffice it to say, Lockheed has a pretty good chance of winning that spacecraft contract if it can help Mars One pull off the proof-of-concept mission. Moreover, this is only the tip of the iceberg for Mars One. Every two years following the first landing of humans on Mars, Mars One wants to send another group of people to Mars. These will all be one-way tickets, but if it works, those people will be the first settlers on Mars. Of course, these are huge "ifs."
What to watch
There are massive hurdles to overcome before the first human steps foot on Mars, including the radiation exposure on the trip, the lack of food and water once on Mars, and any number of other things. But there were hurdles to making it to the moon, too. Those were overcome in good order, and it's entirely possible that the hurdles facing humans reaching Mars could be overcome as well. Dutch Nobel laureate Gerard 't Hooft, who won the 1999 prize for physics, seems to think it's a possibility. Plus, according to Lansdorp, more than 200,000 people have already volunteered to go, and to star in the first-ever Mars reality show. Will it ever take place? Maybe. The 2025 timetable seems highly unlikely, but I could be wrong. And if I am wrong, and the colonization of Mars begins in 2025, Lockheed could make bank. Consequently, investors should continue to monitor this story.
Fool contributor Katie Spence has no position in any stocks mentioned. Follow her on Twitter: @TMFKSpence. The Motley Fool owns shares of Lockheed Martin. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.