When Mars One announced in December its plans for its first robotic precursor missions to Mars, it also started a crowdfunding campaign to raise $400,000. Those funds, the Dutch-based nonprofit organization said, would not be used to fund the robotic mission concept studies announced in December for a lander and orbiter, but “will help us achieve our goals more rapidly” and also demonstrate public interest in Mars One’s ultimate plans to send humans on one-way journeys to Mars, officials said then.
The results for Mars One, as the crowdfunding campaign ended earlier this week, are mixed. Mars One fell short of its $400,000 goal, ending up with $313,749, even after extending the deadline for the effort. However, since Mars One used Indiegogo, rather than Kickstarter and its all-or-nothing model, Mars One does get the money it did raise, making it one of the largest space-related crowdfunding efforts to date. Whether it demonstrated the broad public interest in Mars One that the organization hoped, though, remains to be seen.
UK-based Bristol Spaceplanes is also getting into crowdfunding, or, more accurately, crowdinvesting. The company, which has been working on RLV concepts for more than two decades, started an effort to raise £150,000 via the site Crowdcube, offering not gifts but instead a 5% stake in the company itself. So far, nine investors have pledged just £1,660, including one £1,000 investor. The company notes that investors who put £20,000 or more into the company get a free flight that the company expects to cost £100,000 when—or if—the company starts flights. Crowdfunded investment is something not yet allowed in the US, pending the finalization by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of long-delayed rules for such investment. The SEC did release proposed rules for crowdfunded investment in October for a 90-day public comment period.