Mars One Looking More and More Like “Mars None”

For Mars One, the hits just keep on coming. Coming on the heels of an MIT study which predicted would-be colonists would doe of hypoxia by the 68th day of a notionally permanent relocation to the Red Planet, and more recent reports that plans for a 2018 surface lander and orbiter have been shelved, Mars One is now dealing with accusations by one of its 100 finalists that the Bas Landorf’s organization is both dunning that same group for money, as well as conducting “interviews” which are anything but serious.

The full article is here, and it is worth a read, but two excerpts detailing efforts by Australian reporter Elmo Keep who has made something of a crusade of unmasking Mars One gives the flavor:

“According to Keep’s research, Mars One’s figure of over 200,000 applicants was simply false. Only 2,071 people actually paid the entry fee, he told Sky News recently. “According to the dozens of people I interviewed over the course of a year for the story, there is scant-to-no proof Mars One has any capability to make it real.”

and

“Roche described how he had thought there would be proper in-person interviews, several days of testing, and what in his mind “approached a legitimate astronaut selection process.” However, the company then had everyone sign a non-disclosure agreement, and proceeded to conduct 10-minute Skype interviews, he said. There were no psychological or psychometric tests he expected from a selection process for a deep-space mission. Applicants were forbidden to record anything or take notes.”  “I have not met anyone from Mars One in person,” Roche told Keep.”

Given the rising tide of negative stories regarding Mars One, it would hardly be surprising if there is more to come. From a certain perspective, the organization has never successfully convinced the space press that its intentions are as explicit as they might seem, even if its means were lacking. As for the mainstream press, the goofy and wholly inaccurate narrative of a “suicide mission,” has trumped any thoughtful discussion of why Mars One might have raised some legitimate questions as to why and how we are going to the Red Planet in the first place, (assuming for the moment that we are, some day.)

The bottom line is that if it Mars One is serious about its goals, it is time to clear the air before it does lasting damage not just to itself, but more importantly to the concept of privately funded exploration and colonization. As many highly credible sources have pointed out, NASA’s own nebulous plans for going to Mars demand a leap of faith of an altogether different sort, one which requires steady federal expenditures on an expensive and archaic solution, year after year for decades to come. And in the end, no-one projects that any human will permanently settle on Mars using that architecture.

A permanent future must lie somewhere in the middle, and even if Mars One has gotten nothing else right, its plan to use major hardware elements and launch solutions which are both affordable and available in the near term should be considered a notable contribution to challenge shared by many, but thus far solved by none. For the moment however, that contribution is being undermined by popular narrative which invites unnecessary doubts about its real motives.

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