Mars One, the privately-funded Mars colony endeavor, expected over a million people to jump at the chance to take a one-way flight to our little red neighbor. It was a perfect funding system: application fees — along with a reality show — would raise funds for fuel and supplies, sending the Mars One team off in style.
But the vast majority of those application fees just haven't materialized. Of the one million plus applications, Mars One expected to field (along with their application fees), the nonprofit has only received 165,000. At an average application cost of $25, that's a funding shortfall of over $20 million. When you consider that in some countries application fees are as high $75, the lost revenue climbs significantly.
However, what might look like the first of many potential disasters for the Mars One project has had decidedly little effect upon the project's organizers. After all, 165,000 people are easily enough to stage a two-year, televised contest in search of the 24 finalists Mars One is looking for. But when shipping the first four-person crew to Mars comes with a six billion dollar price tag, losing 20 million in seed money so early on could prove disastrous. It's not quite as disastrous as losing funding when four hungry people are already on Mars and awaiting resupply, but bad nonetheless.