Not everyone logged onto the internet to shop on Cyber Monday. While online sales did rack up a new record, hitting $7.9 billion, some internet goers were watching a live stream of space commentary as the NASA InSight Mars Lander descended onto the planet.
The story was quietly buried under a barrage of other news from the weekend -- and email promotions for Cyber Monday. But the feat is far from unimpressive.
NASA launched the InSight Mars Lander on May 5, before it traveled 485 million miles and landed on Nov. 26. Its purpose? To give Mars a "check up" as it examines its vital signs. That is to say, NASA wants to know more about the 4.5 billion-year-old planet as it plans on "investigating the interior structure and composition of Mars. The mission will also determine the rate of Martian tectonic activity and meteorite impacts."
Lockheed Martin (LMT - Get Report) is the company behind the InSight Mars Lander. In fact, Lockheed was responsible for building all three components to the spacecraft, including the cruising stage, the heat-absorbing shell and the lander.
As one would expect, launching a near-$1 billion project into space to travel almost 500 million miles didn't go exactly as planned. Originally, the mission was set to launch in March 2016, but due to a vacuum failure with the seismometer -- used to measure seismic activity and to enable 3-D mapping of Mars' interior -- the launch was delayed.
Given that this piece of equipment was the primary instrument on board, it was critical for it to be included in the mission. The team ended up missing its launch window, where it then waited until May 2018. While the team had time to fix the seismometer issue, it increased costs significantly. Originally costing $675 million, expenses jumped almost 23% to $830 million.
All that said, the mission was still a success, with the InSight Mars Lander touching down Monday afternoon (eastern time). As NASA and others continue to log successful launches for planet Earth to Mars, one would assume more entities will be interested in visiting and studying the Red Planet.
While Lockheed developed this particular spacecraft, Boeing (BA - Get Report) is also one to keep track of. The two companies also formed a joint venture together, the United Launch Alliance. The entity provides "spacecraft launch services to the United States government."
There's also Tesla (TSLA - Get Report) CEO Elon Musk's other company, SpaceX. Musk has long talked about sending spacecraft and manned missions to Mars. In a recent interview, he even said there's a 70% chance he'll go there himself. Whether that comes to fruition is up for debate, but the message is clear: SpaceX's goal is to get to Mars.
In fact, it pretty much says it right there on its website: "The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets."
NASA is a clear winner in regards to landing on Mars, with multiple successful trips. But who will win the race for the first successful manned mission to Mars? That's still up in the air.Want to Buy $1 Worth of Stock for 90 Cents or Less? You can with certain so-called "closed-end" mutual funds - an often overlooked investment class. Click here to register for a free online video in which TheStreet's retirement expert Robert Powell and an all-star panel tell you all you need to know.