WASHINGTON – The company that will fund Mars One has been liquidated, which represents a serious setback for the quixotic goals of the one-way human missions company to Mars.
Mars One Ventures AG, the commercial arm of Mars One's general effort, was liquidated in a case on January 15 in a civil court in the Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt, according to a January 16 filing of the canton's commercial register. The presentation was published for the first time on February 10 on Reddit.
The presentation offered little information about the bankruptcy case or about how the company was liquidated. Bas Lansdorp, founder of Mars One, confirmed that the company was bankrupt, but provided some additional details.
"We are working with the administrator and an investor to find a solution," he said in an email dated February 11, but said he could not publicly discuss the status of those efforts at this time.
Mars One has an unusual structure that involves two organizations. One is Mars One Foundation, a nonprofit organization responsible for implementing its goal of establishing a permanent human settlement on Mars. The other was Mars One Ventures AG, which owned the exclusive rights to monetize the project through sales, sponsorships and broadcasting rights, which provide a portion of that revenue to the Mars One Foundation.
Lansdorp emphasized that the bankruptcy filing only affected the for-profit company, Mars One Ventures. However, with the collapse of that company, the funding of the nonprofit foundation is uncertain.
Mars One has provided few financial updates since it announced in December 2016 that Mars One Ventures had been made public following the acquisition by InFin Innovative Finance AG, a Swiss firm that previously worked in mobile payment technologies that was already marketed in the market. Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The latest shareholder update for Mars One Ventures was published in June 2018, according to the investor relations section of its website. At the time that the trading of the shares had been suspended on the Frankfurt stock exchange, with the hope of resuming it in August.
Mars One hit the headlines several years ago with plans to privately fund human missions to Mars, and those selected to fly in those missions commit themselves to a one-way trip without prospects of returning to Earth. In announcing its plans in 2012, Mars One said it expected people to land on Mars in 2023, when it was later delayed not before 2032.
Mars One said it could carry out the initial mission, through the landing of the first crew of four people on Mars, for $ 6 billion, a figure of which the organization offered few details and a much criticized in the space industry in general as too low. Mars One planned to raise funds for the mission by selling broadcast rights, citing the large revenues generated by rights to events such as the Olympic Games and the World Cup.
There was a considerable response from people interested in flying on such missions, even if Mars One exaggerated those numbers. He affirmed in September 2013 that more than 200,000 people had requested his first round of astronaut selection. However, that figure was applied only to those who initiated the process and did not include those who actually completed their application forms and paid the application fee. No more than a few thousand completed their applications, of which Mars One selected 1,058 at the end of 2013 for further consideration.
By February 2015, Mars One had reduced the number of finalists for its first round of astronauts to 100, who had to participate in additional projections, including training at a simulated Mars outpost. However, that training has been delayed and Mars One has not provided recent updates on how the astronaut selection process will continue.
The plans for robotic pioneer missions also suffered delays. Mars One awarded study contracts in 2013 to Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) to develop an orbiter to serve as relay communications, and to Lockheed Martin for a landing on Mars based on the design of NASA's Phoenix mission. However, the activity in these projects was stopped in early 2015 after the companies completed their initial studies and did not receive funds to perform additional work.
Mars One announced in December 2016 that those missions, initially scheduled for launch in 2018, had been delayed until 2022 for the lander and 2024 for the orbiter, but since then it has not provided further updates on its development.
When asked on February 11 whether he could provide any news about the astronaut selection process or other activities of the Mars One Foundation, Lansdorp replied: "There is no news of the foundation at this time."