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Mars One settlement
Mars One envisions creating a permanent settlement on Mars, as shown in this artist’s conception. (Mars One Illustration)

Remember Mars One? Four years ago, a Dutch-based venture said it would take advantage of reality-show revenue to send crews on the Red Planet in 2023. Now the date is 2032 – but it remains to be seen whether Mars One will ever be able to follow through.

The revised schedule was laid out today in an online update that also touches upon Mars One’s biggest hurdle: finding the billions of dollars needed to fund a crewed mission to Mars.

“Mars One can only implement the mission to Mars if we can afford it – and we need investments to get going,” the venture’s co-founder and CEO, Bas Lansdorp, said in the update.

The revised strategy calls for getting a listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange for Mars One’s commercial activities. The goal is to raise up to €10 million ($10.7 million) in the first round of funding.

“Being listed on a stock exchange will make fundraising more straightforward,” Lansdorp said.

Not coincidentally, shareholders of a Swiss financial company known as Innovative Finance AG, or InFin, approved a plan to acquire Mars One Ventures last week. Mars One Ventures is the for-profit side of the operation, while Mars One Foundation is a Dutch nonprofit.

If Mars One attracts enough investment to move forward, here’s the revised mission schedule:

  • 2017: Select three to six groups of four crew members each from Mars One’s current pool of 100 astronaut candidates. Hire the selected candidates full-time to train for Mars missions. Open a new astronaut application round.
  • 2022: Launch robotic spacecraft modeled after NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander to the Red Planet for a demonstration mission.
  • 2024: Send dedicated communication satellite to Mars.
  • 2026: Launch a rover to aid in selecting the settlement location on Mars.
  • 2029: Send out a second rover and hardware required for Mars settlement.
  • 2031: Launch the first crew of four astronauts on seven-month cruise to Mars.
  • 2032: First crew lands on Mars. Hardware for the second crew arrives as well.
  • 2034: Landing of the second crew, plus the hardware for the third crew.

Back in 2012, Mars One sounded like a revolutionary concept. Not so much anymore. SpaceX is planning to send robotic Dragon capsules on privately funded missions to Mars starting as soon as 2018, and wants to begin launching settlers to the Red Planet in the 2020s.

Meanwhile, NASA and the European Space Agency are planning a series of robotic missions to blaze a trail for crewed trips to Mars in the 2030s. National Geographic Channel’s “Mars” miniseries lays out a scenario for landings in the 2030s as well.

Will the Mars One scenario become solid enough, and stay sexy enough, to attract investors? Or wlll it turn into a case of “been there, done that, with more money”? Sarcastic Rover and others are already weighing in on Twitter:

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