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olonization has been in the blood of humans for thousands of years, and with Earth’s population reaching its highest peak as well as its ecosystem leaning towards a decline, some people are already thinking of the possibility of moving to a different planet. People such as Elon Musk have shown the possibility of such a project because the required technology is here, but it is still too expensive to “mass produce.”

However, one man in 2011 wanted to bring this vision or dream closer to “reality,” or better said, the foolishness of rich investors. Bas Lansdorp was the co-founder and CEO of the private organization Mars One. Before Mars One, Lansdrop became a successful entrepreneur in the western world, proving his ability to not only raise companies but also the capital.

Mars One started with Lansdorp’s dream of colonizing Mars and making it a habitable space for humans to live on. As ambitious as this sounded, he had spent quite a few years near-space engineers and scientists who saw his drive for this project, and therefore supported his vision. As an entrepreneur he knew that this project would require an enormous amount of investment, therefore he used his entrepreneurial skills to look for people that had the two things he needed:

  1. A desire to move to a different planet.
  2. Lots of money!

The money was never seen on paper

Lansdorp came up with an estimate of six billion dollars to start the first missions and get a habitat going that could produce food and allow those who moved there to live with no support from Earth. During the first two years from the start of the company, over 220,000 people invested large amounts of money. These people were promised a chance to end up on Mars, as only a few would be selected at the beginning, and over the years more and more would be able to migrate to the new planet.

Over the years the company kept receiving investments from people all around the world, but they never signed a contract. On paper, the company (Mars One) wasn’t even registered. For eight years, they claimed to be a real company, hiring hundreds of personnel, however, there were only four people in the venture, Lansdorp and four other people who are believed to be his friends.

“Since we started Mars One in March 2011, we received support from scientists, engineers, businessmen and –women and aeropace companies from all over the world. The announcement of our plan in May 2012 resulted in the engagement of the general public, and the support from sponsors and investors. To see our mission evolve this way feels like my dream is becoming a reality.” (taken from Mars One website, written by Bas Lansdorp.)

Bas Lansdorp as a keynote speaker (Source: Mars One)

In order to show his legitimacy, he offered to give free speeches to various organizations about the Mars One project and his vision, such a humble man. Everything he was doing seemed legitimate, but some felt a bit skeptical about this whole project, as it simply sounded a bit too good to be true. Therefore they started to look up information about the company. As the company was private, this meant that most of the information was also private. However, this didn’t stop some investors who were wondering where their money actually went.

The man behind the company was a mastermind in marketing, as he publicized everything on a professional level whilst using his background as an academic to create credibility around the fake company. The publicity created around the company made people think that his project was real.

Although other space and technology prestigious institutions thought differently. The research was carried out by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to show that even if his people made it to Mars, they would die after 68 days of living on the planet, just because of the extremely low temperatures. To combat this, Lansdorp promised all the investors that the project would be finished by 2027.

The company was also backed up by lots of international space organizations, which shows how Lansdorp used this to not only build credibility around the project but also give a reason for investors to trust him with their money.

In January 2019, the company was declared bankrupt with the private bank account showing the company being $25,000 in debt. Since then, there has been no information about Lansdorp or Mars One as every asset owned by the company was liquified.

But what happened with all the money raised?

The accounts were never publicly shown, but people do speculate that Mars One raised a few billion dollars. It is believed that Lansdorp took all the money and left the public media. At the same time maybe he just moved to Mars by himself, at the end of the day that was his dream.

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