Private Sector Leads Way to Mars
Sure, we’re all stoked as hell about the Curiosity rover going around the planet Mars, Tweeting snarkily all the way, but a real project for Mars, one that will advance our spaceflight programs far, far beyond mere unmanned probes. And it is being done entirely by private sector investors:
A Dutch company that aims to land humans on Mars in 2023 as the vanguard of a permanent Red Planet colony says it has received its first funding from sponsors.
Mars One plans to fund most of its ambitious activities via a global reality-TV media event, which will follow the mission from the selection of astronauts through their first years on the Red Planet. But the sponsorship money is important. That support will help the company — which had been self-funded for the last 18 months — get to the point where it can do the show, officials said Wednesday.
“Receipt of initial sponsorship marks the next step to humans setting foot on Mars,” Mars One founder and president Bas Lansdorp said in a statement. “A little more than a year ago we embarked down this path, calling upon industry experts to share in our bold dream. Today, we have moved from a technical plan into the first stage of funding, giving our dream a foundation in reality.”
Initial sponsors include Byte Internet (a Dutch Internet/Webhosting provider); Dutch lawfirm VBC Notarissen; Dutch consulting company MeetIn; New-Energy.tv (an independent Dutch web station that focuses on energy and climate); and Dejan SEO (an Australia-based search engine optimization firm).
“Mars One is not just a daring project, but the core of what drives human spirit towards exploration of the unknown. We are privileged to be a supporter of this incredible project,” said Dan Petrovic, general director of Dejan SEO.
How about that. Interplanetary colonization done not by a government, but by a private consortium of investors who want to make “Big Brother” on Mars. (Ugh, that actually makes it sound bad. Strike “Big Brother” from the record.)
I meet so many people who think that great things simply cannot be accomplished by private interests, that there is no demand for such things, or that they will fail. On the latter count, we can’t really call yet, but clearly on the former such people are wrong. Private industry is interested in advancing spaceflight and interplanetary colonization. We’ll have to wait until 2023 to pass final judgment, but already I feel this has some promise.
Then again, that might just be me wishing they hurry up and create a pot-smokers paradise on Mars. Because, you know, it’s Dutch.