Mars One looking more and more like a money-making scam

Mars One, the Dutch non-profit organization that promises to place the first human colony in Mars by 2025, has made a string of forecasts and assurances that simply do not add up, a growing number of lay people, nearly all experts, and one shortlisted candidate for the mission say.

The plan to send up to 20 people to Mars within the next decade started five years ago. When they arrive there, they stay. They never come back. They will live on Mars until they die.

One may wonder who would be crazy enough to sign up to a one way ticket to an extremely hostile environment millions of miles away. According to Mars One, 200,000 people applied.

The Guardian, however, says the true number of applications was just over one-hundredth of what Mars One claims – just 2,176.

A shortlist of 100 people will start training later this year, the Dutch organization informs.

Training Outpost Alpha for Mars One Mission

Later this year training will start in a simulated Mars Settlement on Earth, to determine how many of the 100 in the current shortlist are suitable for the mission. (Image: Mars One)

Costs of the whole mission do not add up

According to Mars One, the cost of sending 20 people to Mars and setting up the colony there will amount to just $6 billion (£4.1 billion or €5.66 billion).


Experts worldwide say that figure is plain wrong. Dutch theoretical physicist and professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Gerard ‘t Hooft, a former Mars One consultant, says the pricing and timescale are way off – by a factor of at least 10.

NASA priced a Mars mission in 2009 at more than $100 billion, with far fewer than 20 people – and that was without the costs of setting up the infrastructure for a permanent colony.

Mars One

Mars One says its rocket will only use existing technology to get the 20 people to Mars and set up a colony there. (Image: Mars One)

How will they fund all this?

Mars One says it is relying on crowdfunding and turning the whole mission into a ‘Big Brother’ style reality TV show. The TV show is looking much less likely now, since Endomol subsidiary recently walked away from talks.

In its last crowdfunding campaign, which aimed to raise just $440,000, the target was not met.

Dr. Joseph Roche, one of the shortlisted candidates, a former NASA researcher who spoke with Elmo Keep for Medium’s Matter blog, said candidates earn points to make it to the final twenty. If they buy Mars One merchandise or donate their interview fees they earn more points.

Dr. Roche quoted Mars One as saying to its shortlisted candidates “If you are offered payment for an interview then feel free to accept it. We do kindly ask for you to donate 75% of your profit to Mars One.”

Mars one says there will be an initial robotic scouting mission in 2018. So far, it has not entered into any talks with aerospace suppliers regarding this.

That is why a growing number of people are starting to wonder whether the whole thing might be a pipe dream at best, or simply a scam.

Video – Mars One Q&A

Ryan MacDonald, a Mars One Astronaut Candidate, speaks to the head of Mars One’s Astronaut Selection Committee, Dr. Norbert Kraft. What determined who passed Mars One’s Round 2 interviews? How will Round 3 proceed? What is in store for the Mars 100? Dr. Kraft answers YOUR questions.