Mars One, the Dutch foundation aiming to establish a privately-funded colony on Mars by 2025, announced that they are contracting with Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. to develop a robotic mission which will scout the Martian surface for a suitable colony.

"We are very excited to announce today that we have contracted lead suppliers for our first robotic mission to Mars, " Bas Lansdorp, co-founder and CEO of Mars One, said at a news conference on Tuesday (December 10) in Washington. "This mission is the first step in Mars One overall step in permanent human settlement on Mars."

The Mars lander is expected to launch in 2018, and will have the ability to scoop up Martian soil with a robotic arm. A water experiment also is planned to extract water from Martian soil. A live feed from Mars is also expected.

"It will be in a fixed location over the Mars lander, which will allow a live video feed from the surface of Mars to Earth, and we expect that this will bring Earth a lot closer to everyone on Earth so anyone on Earth could log into our website and see what it's like in Mars, is there snow on Mars," Lansdorp said.

According to Lansdorp, this is the first privately-funded mission to Mars that includes landing and having a satellite in the planet's orbit.

Edward Sedivy, a civil space engineer at Lockheed Martin, said the privately-funded mission is the "dawn of a new era in space exploration."

"It is the first privately-funded exploration mission and if you think about that, that is really really cool," Sedivy said.

Mars One will be relying on sponsors, exclusive partnerships and a crowdfunding campaign through the website Indiegogo to cover the costs. The organisation also will have university competitions to engage a new generation about Mars exploration.

The not-for-profit foundation hopes to establish human settlement on Mars by 2025. There will be two living units, two life support systems and two supply units.

To get the first four humans on Mars, Lansdorp said it will cost around six billion U.S. dollars.

Presented by Adam Justice