We haven’t heard much lately from Mars One, the company that promised to send people to colonize Mars as part of a reality TV show. It’s looking like we won’t hear from it again, either. An eagle-eyed space enthusiast has spotted a bankruptcy filing from a Swiss court confirming Mars One is no more.
Mars One started making waves in the early 2010s with its plan to ship a few dozen humans off to Mars on a one-way trip. Mars One founder Bas Lansdorp envisioned a funding scheme based entirely on licensing and TV programs. To make that happen, Lansdorp set Mars One up as two entities: the non-profit Mars One Foundation and the Swiss-based Mars One Ventures for-profit. The for-profit company was supposed to handle all the licensing and funding for the foundation, and now it’s officially bankrupt.
Problems appeared soon after Mars One began promoting its plans. People from around the world were invited to apply for the mission, but its claims that 200,000 people applied for a one-way trip to Mars have been disputed. The real number, according to a former candidate, was less than 3,000. The company also used merchandise purchases and donations as a deciding factor for who moved forward in the selection process.
At every turn, it became increasingly clear that Mars One didn’t have the technology or personnel to make it to Mars in the 2020s. Even Elon Musk’s most ambitious plans aren’t that unbelievable, and he actually has rockets under design that are theoretically capable of getting to the planet. Mars One never announced any partnerships with aerospace companies to design its theoretical habitats or transport supplies to the surface for its colonists.
Even when Mars One did offer some minor details, experts quickly tore them apart. For example, Lansdorp’s claim that colonists could grow crops on Mars to produce oxygen in their living spaces would have caused them to either suffocate or explode. The habitats themselves also lacked the necessary shielding to protect colonists from the high radiation levels on the red planet. It’s not even clear humans could survive long-term on the surface — underground habitats may be necessary. This is the sort of basic question Mars One never addressed.
The last word from Mars One came in July 2018 when it announced a €12 million investment from Phoenix Enterprises. Apparently, that wasn’t enough to keep Mars One Ventures afloat. If you want to live on Mars, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
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