Thu. Dec 1st, 2022
Hand-drawn diagrams of a Mars base.
enlarge / Mars One had some drawings. But that’s about it.

To the surprise of almost no one, Mars One appears to be dead. Founded in 2013, this project said it would raise money from fees and marketing rights to send people on a one-way mission to establish the Red Planet.

Now, thanks to a user on Reddit, we know the effort has seemingly come to an end. Mars One consists of two entities: the Dutch not-for-profit Mars One Foundation and the listed Swiss-based Mars One Ventures. A civil court in Basel, Switzerland, opened bankruptcy proceedings against the latter company in mid-January. Attempts to contact Mars One officials on Monday were unsuccessful. (See update below).

To say that this site was skeptical about Mars One would be putting it mildly. In May 2013 – after more than 30,000 people around the world signed up to become “astronauts” for Mars One – Ars’ Lee Hutchinson mocked the venture and wrote an article about some of the technical challenges it would face.

It just seems like a ridiculous, impossible project. And not the good kind of impossible project that ends in the triumph of the human mind overcoming it blah, blah, blah – this seems like the bad kind of impossible project where people end up dead. I wish Mars One and its applicants the best of luck, but if they get even one launch, I’ll eat my hat.

Looks like Lee Hutchinson’s hat is safe. (Unfortunately for the hat, it still has to stay on Lee’s head.)

The problem with Mars One is that it made something extraordinarily difficult — launching people into space, taking care of them on the long, perilous journey to Mars, landing them on Mars and providing some sort of sustainable living conditions there — seems relatively easy. It’s not.

Elon Musk has made establishing Mars his life’s work. He is essentially one of the world’s most driven people, has capital and a highly talented workforce to achieve SpaceX’s goals. But while we’re rooting for him, we’re not at all sure he’ll succeed in the end.

NASA also wants to send people to Mars. It has had those ambitions since the Apollo landings on the moon. At least four presidents — the Bushes, Obama and Trump — have made sending humans to Mars a part of their overall plans for manned spaceflight. However, we are not much closer now than we were in 1969.

To believe that a small company selling “marketing rights” as a way to get to Mars would solve all the technical problems along the way was absolutely laughable. But it’s no laughing matter that it downplays the very real challenges of spaceflight.

7:30pm ET Monday update: Emma Sledge, of Mars One Communications, emailed us the following: “We are currently working with the administrator and an investor to find a solution, but right now that is all we can share. We will release subsequent press releases as more information becomes available. I would just like to add that this bankruptcy concerns the commercial arm, Mars One Ventures AG, and will not affect the non-profit Mars One Foundation.”

By akfire1

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