We all want to live on Mars, and a not-for-profit organization called Mars One has been trying to make that a reality. The people at Mars One are devoted to using existing technology (not inventing new technology) to take a team of humans to Mars where they will live permanently. It is an ambitious project, and, as of 2013, they were already as far along as the astronaut selection stage.
A former NASA researches named Joseph Roche filled out an application to be one of those astronauts. Roche found a web of bad management, oddball financial commitments, and, he finally surmised, a giant scam behind the Mars One project.
In a recent report to IFL Science, Roche described a suspicious audition process. There was a medical examination, an online quiz, and a few forms to fill out. There was no in-person interview. Roche found himself in a group of the final 100 (of 200,000 applicants, according to Mars One, although Roche found that the number may be closer to 2,000), but had yet to meet anyone from Mars One. He did learn, however, that one could accrue more “points” and work their way up the list by making donations and buying merch. Yeah, doesn’t really sound on the up-and-up to me either.
The goal was to have a ship to Mars in the air in about 10 years, and to raise about $6 billion (with a “b”) through a fund-raising reality TV show. Money hasn’t been raised quite that quickly, there is no sign of the show, and the project is most certainly going to be pushed back… if it doesn’t collapse completely.
Bas Lansdorp, the CEO of Mars One, remains positive. He feels that pushing the project back as much as 8 years is still a good goal. After all, at the end of it, people will be living on Mars. He’s talking to other production companies. But it’s looking more and more that money is not working, and the current money being earned isn’t showing anything. He also outright denies a lot of the negative allegations, as seen in this video.
Why is all this significant? Well, the U.S. government has been notoriously gunshy when it comes to funding space programs in the modern age, leaving most of the astronomical tech in the hands of ambitious private billionaires like Elon Musk. We live in an era where space travel will have to be privatized in order to survive. As such, making money will have to be a priority. So finances and space travel do often mix, and when a space travel company is having trouble, then all space travel suffers.
Is donating to Mars One worth your money? I’d say save your cash until you can buy a ticket on an already-working rocket. Also, where’s my jetpack?