WASHINGTON – The company that supplies Mars One has been liquidated, delivering a severe recession in the quixotic venture's aim of one-way human mission on Mars.
Mars One Ventures AG, the commercial arm of the overall Mars An effort, was abolished in a January 15 case in a civil court in the Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt, according to a January 16 filing a commercial register canton. The filing was first published on February 10 at Reddit.
The filing offers little information about the bankruptcy case or how the company was dismantled. Bas Lansdorp, founder of Mars One, said the company was bankrupt, but provided some additional details.
"We are working with administrators and investors to find a solution," he said in an email on February 1
Mars One has an unusual structure involving two organizations. One is the Mars One Foundation, a non-profit organization responsible for implementing its goal of promoting permanent human settlement on Mars. Another is Mars One Ventures AG, which possesses the exclusive rights to monetize the project through items such as sales of sponsorships and broadcast rights, which provides part of Mars One Foundation's revenue.
Lansdorp emphasizes that the filing of bankruptcy only affects the for-profit company, Mars One Ventures. However, with the collapse of that company, non-profit foundation financing is uncertain.
Mars One issued several financial updates since December 2016 that Mars One Ventures was lost to the public after the acquisition of InFin Innovative Finance AG, a Swiss firm previously employed in payment technologies mobile trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The latest shareholder update of Mars One Ventures was published in June 2018, according to the investor relations section of its website. At the time of trading the stock was suspended at Frankfurt exchange, with the hope of resuming this in August.
Mars One has earned headlines a few years ago with plans to privately fund human missions on Mars, with those chosen to fly missions made in a one-way trip without hope to return to Earth. In 2012 the announcement of its plans, Mars One said it expects people to have land on Mars in 2023, a date which then delayed it not earlier than 2032.
Mars One said that it can eliminate the first mission, by landing the first four crew on Mars, for $ 6 billion, a figure the organization offers some details about and is widely criticized in broader industry space as far too low. The Mars One plans to raise funds for the mission by selling broadcast rights, mentioning the huge revenue generated for rights to events such as the Olympic Games and the World Cup.
There was a huge response from people who were interested in flying missions, even if Mars One had issued those numbers. It said in September 2013 that more than 200,000 people were applied in the first round of picking astronauts. However, that figure was applied only to those who started the process and did not include those who actually completed their application forms and paid the application fee. No fewer thousand actually completed their applications, from which Mars One was selected at 1,058 at the end of 2013 for further consideration.
In February 2015, Mars One has reduced the number of finalists for the first round of astronauts at 100, which is to participate in additional screenings, including training in a simulated Mars guards. However, this training was delayed, and Mars One did not provide recent updates on how to proceed with the astronaut selection process.
Plans for early robot missionaries also suffered delays. Mars One has been awarded the 2013 study contract at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) to develop an orbiter to serve as communication relay, and to Lockheed Martin for a Mars lander based on the design for NASA's Phoenix mission. However, the activity of these projects stopped by early 2015 after companies completed their first study and did not receive funding for additional work.
Mars One announced in December 2016 that those missions, first scheduled for launch in 2018, were delayed by 2022 for landers and 2024 for orbiter, but since then no longer provide additional updated their progress.
Asked February 11 if he could give any news about the astronaut selection process or other activities at Mars One Foundation, Lansdorp responded, "No news from the foundation today."