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A Mystery Investor May Save the Bankrupt Mars One Mission

Did we speak too soon in declaring the Mars One project finally dead? The organization now says it’s speaking with a mystery investor who might inject the cash necessary to save part of the would-be Martian project.

Then again, Mars One says a lot of things.

In case you missed the news yesterday: A Redditor discovered a Swiss court filing from January in which Mars One was officially declared bankrupt. It looked like the final nail in the coffin for the organization, which was founded back in 2012 with the stated goal of taking humanity to the Red Planet via a reality TV show that would select a handful of finalists from thousands of astronaut applicants, but was repeatedly accused of being a scam preying on people’s enthusiasm for Mars.

Today, according to Engadget, Mars One has a possible lifeline. A new investor is interested in resurrecting the for-profit part of the group and plans to announce his or her intentions for Mars One on March 6. This is certainly good news for Mars One’s investors, who are owed an excess of $1 million and might actually recoup their money this way. But the vexing question is, just why in the hell would anybody want to salvage Mars One?

The group’s proposed business plan—to pay for the billions required to colonize Mars via reality TV shows about the first people to live off-planet—always seemed sketchy at best and like an outright scam at worst. In 2015, an insider whistleblower claimed the group had no real plan to realize its interplanetary pitch and had vastly exaggerated the number of people who’d actually applied.

The last official dispatch from Mars One had come in July 2018, when it claimed outside investment by Phoenix Enterprises. Six months later, it was bankrupt. Today’s angel investor claim feels suspiciously timed to counter the many news reports that came out yesterday following the discovery of Mars One’s bankruptcy. Let’s just say we’re going to need a little more than a statement to be convinced of any revival.

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