Why Send Humans To Mars, When You Can Send Ads

But are they worth the cost?

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Head Image
© 2017 Mars One

While NASA, the Chinese and SpaceX all have their own plans to send humans to Mars, the group with by far the most ambitious project to achieve this is Mars One. A not-for-profit consortium, this group plans to send humans to Mars in just over a decade though a project funded almost entirely by advertising. With the idea that a mission to Mars would be the largest media event in the world, they believe that sponsors would pay billions to have their products and logos featured throughout the mission.

As part of their timeline to send humans to the Red Planet, Mars One intends to send a number of robotic demonstrator missions as a both a proof of concept, and to survey areas for an eventual colony. Despite having raised over $300,000 through Indiegogo to fund these initial missions, slated for launch in 2018, this is nowhere near the amounts needed to send a lander to Mars.

With this is mind, Mars One is offering to send commercial payloads to the planet which could include advertising or other promotional materials:

Mars One offers two payload opportunities for paying mission contributors. Proposals can take the form of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations, marketing and publicity campaigns, or any other suggested payload. “Previously, the only payloads that have landed on Mars are those which NASA has selected,” said Bas Lansdorp, Co Founder of Mars One

Image: © 2014 Mars One

Clearly, advertisers would probably be willing to attach their branding to a Mars mission, or indeed make a mission which is all about marketing their product, however it is unlikely they would pay enough to get the mission off the ground. Missions to Mars are notoriously prone to failure, with less than half of all missions being successful, and, as such, a multi-million dollar marketing mission would be a very risky proposition.

Despite these challenges, Mars One, which has earlier been derided by many as technically and economically impossible, is continuing to push ahead with its plan, contracting Lockheed Martin to produce a feasibility and design study for a robotic lander. However without significant sponsorship or a major investor getting behind the project, Mars One will inevitably die and untimely death. With this in mind, this proposal to send ads to Mars cries of desperation form a company without significant funding.