Lunar Mission One: An Announcement about Future Changes - 2019

Drawing a close to the project initiated by Kickstarter – but keeping the idea alive as The Ark of Life

Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal: 
"The project is plainly ambitious and challenging, but its special cultural and scientific features should generate wide interest and support. It deserves to succeed."

We have made a real effort to fulfill the LM1 vision – both ambitious and challenging! Yet since the end of LM1’s Kickstarter funded preparatory phase in 2015, we have been proceeding without any cash with only limited progress. We have always made clear that beyond the Kickstarter phase, further substantial funds and backing were required to enable the project to advance. We have long known of, and waited for, a prospective sponsor but so far it has not been able to deliver. The Trustees (who are all volunteers) have decided to wait no further, and to take two main courses of action.

The first is to seek one High Net Worth Individual, who could personally provide the at-risk cash to recover momentum and could lead to other single sources of high-level funding. The individual could be from anywhere around the World and is likely to be a billionaire. The call for new sponsorship is available from here.[Link removed May 2023]

The other course of action is to halt the core LM1 project but to keep alive the inspiring underlying LM1 idea. The future mission, including its archive with Digital Memory Boxes for Kickstarter backers, will await external funding and other developments. None of the volunteers we have spoken to want to stop their activities. So, the idea can be sustained through them.

Our chapters and pilot schools continued in 2018, and a group of chapter leads formed an Intercontinental Group – one from each of North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia (Indian subcontinent) and South East Asia – to help with the global connections of LM1’s public engagement.

Meanwhile LM1 presented last year at conferences or exhibitions in Dallas (USA), UK (Sidmouth, Bristol, Nottingham, Plymouth, Belfast), Stockholm (Sweden), Dublin (Ireland), Amiens (France) and Bilovec (Czech Republic). These activities may continue in the future. 

The context and rational of both the idea and the project remain. From our 2017 update: “LM1 is ideally placed to benefit from both increased lunar focus and more private enterprise aiming for the final frontier. LM1 scientists remain in the forefront of discussions on lunar exploration hosted by space agencies, especially NASA and ESA.” We have recently seen considerable activity on and around the Moon and it is clearly now the focus of international missions. 

The top aim of the LM1 idea is, and always has been, to raise new funding for public space science and exploration. Its revenue justification comes from the private archive – mainly from the DNA carried as hair. The USPs (Unique Selling Points) have not changed: (1) a billion-year time capsule of Life on Earth, (2) a genuine part of “you”, and (3) the global scale of public engagement. All these points remain both unique and selling. 

The Trustees will maintain the list of Kickstarter backers, and in particular the list of those with Digital Memory Box vouchers, for if and when a new project can be set up. We also intend to maintain the “Footsteps on the Moon” images for their launch and lunar placement by Astrobotic’s Peregrine spacecraft

For interest, this report describes how we spent the Kickstarter money, while this Forbes article highlights the issue we have faced with the UK tax authorities, which terminated funded progress at the end of the Kickstarter stage. Our higher judicial appeal will be heard in March at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, and we plan to wind up LM Ltd after that and use any money to pay off its trade creditors. All our legal work for these proceedings is being done on a no-win-no-fee basis. 

The LM1 website is now archived with no further updates, but is available online for reference and detailed information for those who wish to investigate it. The Trust will maintain an archive of the project’s financial and commercial records.

We should like to maintain a social media presence, and seek a volunteer for regular updates of information that corresponds with the LM1 idea. We propose that future developments should come under a new name, the “Ark of Life”, which more accurately reflects what LM1 is about and which was selected by our market research exercise back in 2012. 

Lunar Missions Trust - January 2019

Tax update

It is with much regret that we have lost our higher legal appeal against the UK tax authority. We are very disappointed with the ruling and that the court did not understand the economic structure of our Kickstarter crowdfunding, by treating our capital funding as if it was revenue funding.  VAT should not have been paid for vouchers whose value could only have been nominal at the time of issue.

As a result of this ruling, we now have no alternative but to close down Lunar Missions Ltd.  In any event, the company has had no cash since October 2015 when the tax authority decision brought the commercial project to a premature end.

Lunar Missions Trust will continue as the custodian of the Lunar Mission One idea on a fully volunteer basis, as it has done since 2015.  Our Footsteps on the Moon image bank will still be carried to the Moon by Astrobotic’s first lander; stay in touch for more details on this mission.

Lunar Missions Trust - October 2019

Questions and answers