Mars One Ventures’ promise of a one-way ticket to planet goes up in red dust

It turns out that starting a company with the goal of sending people on a one-way trip to Mars isn’t easy. At least, that’s the conclusion we’re reaching from the news that Mars One Ventures — a Swiss company that once promised to establish a permanent human settlement on the Red Planet — has filed for bankruptcy.

News of the ill-fated company’s demise was highlighted when a Reddit user noticed a bankruptcy filing on a website for Mars One Ventures’ hometown of Basel, Switzerland. It suggests that the company went under on January 15. Its nonprofit wing, the Mars One Foundation, is still technically alive, but not exactly active. In other words, just like the folks Mars One once hoped to send into space, it appears that this venture most likely isn’t coming back.

While any plan to build a colony on Mars is likely to be a little bit “out there,” Mars One Ventures struck many as zanier than most. The core idea was no different to many others: To start by sending out unmanned missions to establish a habitable settlement, ready for the first astronauts to arrive. The colonists would then arrive, ready and willing to make the best of their new planet. The zany bit was Mars One’s plan to fund much of its work through an exclusive reality TV show that would follow its selected astronauts as they trained for their one-way mission. Oh, and a whole lot of associated merchandising, too.

This IP aspect was seemingly pretty crucial to the whole Mars One Ventures game plan. One previous press release from the company notes that, “Mars One Ventures holds the exclusive monetization rights around the Mars One mission. There are many revenue possibilities around the mission to Mars: Merchandise, ads on video content, broadcasting rights, partnerships, Intellectual Property, events, games, apps, and many more.”

Mars One had picked up other investments along the way, but ultimately it seems that this wasn’t enough to get its plans in motion. The company’s first robot-led missions were supposed to begin at the start of last year, but these were gradually pushed back. One of the last times the company gave an update, it hoped to launch its robot mission in the mid-2020s, and its human missions at a later date than that.

Hey, at least the website’s merchandise section still appears to be open for business!

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