Mars One says new investor could save it from bankruptcy

Mars One's mission to take humans to the red planet isn't over, the company insists, claiming talks with a new investor could bring the ill-fated space travel company out of bankruptcy. If the deal goes through, Mars One Ventures says, it'll take a new approach to publicizing – and funding – the whole project.

It's fair to say the years haven't been easy going on Mars One's operations. After a splashy launch back in 2012, the start-up's goal of putting a reality show on Mars saw over 200,000 applications. That's despite it being a one-way ticket.

Sending people into space – never mind building them a colony on a planet millions of miles away, and then keeping them alive to star in a TV show – was never going to be easy. Sure enough, the Dutch company met with extreme skepticism by scientists and media, as well as running foul of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Its Mars One Ventures AG stock was suspended in 2017 when the company increased the number of shares.

It seemed, therefore, like the end of the road when reports earlier this week claimed Mars One Ventures AG – the for-profit part of Mars One, distinct in its operations from the Mars One Foundation – had gone into bankruptcy. That was confirmed today by Mars One, which announced that the corporation is indeed in administration. There's now a thirty day period in which it can reverse the administration process.

However Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp says the company isn't giving up. "During the last few months, discussions have been held with a new investment company," Mars One said today. "The goal of the investor and Mars One is to achieve either a reversal of the administration or a restart based on a financial agreement with the liquidator."

According to the company, Mars One's total debts current amount to CHF 1.1m, or around $1.11m. The investment company currently in talks "has expressed its intention" to pay Mars One's creditors that money owed.

If all goes to plan – and that's undoubtedly a sizable "if" still – Mars One plans to "redirect its focus" the company says. "For the execution of the actual voyage to Mars, the company will continue to seek strategic collaboration with renowned companies and organizations involved with the travel to Mars," it now says. After all, Mars One itself isn't an engineering firm, and has no operations in building space craft.

"Mars One itself will focus on the even more inspiring "being there," the adventurous story of humans actually living on Mars, making The Red Planet their new home," the company continues. It'll focus on creating content about the technological, psychological, economical, and ethical aspects of colonization.

For now, that's all Mars One is saying on the matter. We'll apparently hear more come March 6, when it promises a press conference – at an undetermined location – with the new investor. Interesting times, but we still suggest would-be Martian colonists probably shouldn't bother packing their suitcases quite yet.