Steve Ballmer Unloads More Microsoft Stock: Will He Fund One-Way Mars Missions?

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Last week we told you about rumors (albeit, largely discredited) that the reason Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was selling off billions of dollars in company stock was so he could buy the Sacramento Kings and deliver an NBA team back to the Emerald City. Then, yesterday we wrote about how Washington State University Professor Dirk Schulze-Makuch proposed sending astronauts on one-way missions to Mars. Schulze-Makuch wrote that getting funding for such missions would take an "eccentric billionaire" to get it done. Now where could he find one of those?

Ballmer has now sold $1.3 billion in Microsoft stock, not counting the $84 million reported on Monday. He says he'll sell another $700 million by year's end, putting him at more than $2 billion in new liquid out of his reported $11 billion in total net worth.

NASA Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden recently said that a one-way trip to Mars would cost around $10 billion. And who was he telling this to? None other than Google co-founder Larry Page (net worth $14 billion), who reportedly tried to bargain the price down to $1 or $2 billion.

Do we count two eccentric billionaires now?

Plus, Microsoft last year partnered with NASA to start a crowdsourcing website that let people do online "scientific research" on Mars by counting craters and matching photos with maps.

So if both high rollers are keen on the red planet, who's to say they won't partner up for humanity and send some astronaut ass to Mars?

Probably both of them, but we'll wait to hear back.

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