Responding to extremely critical reports over the last week that the Mars One mission to place 20 people on the Red Planet and stay there for the rest of their lives is at best a pipe dream, and might even be a giant scam, CEO Bas Lansdorp says the mission is honorable, feasible, not under-priced, and will happen.
Critics have pulled apart virtually every aspect of the project, comparing Mars One’s $6 billion cost estimate to NASA’s up to $100 billion.
Mr. Landsdorp says the criticisms are all sourced from a ‘sensational’ article by journalist Elmo Keep, which was devoid of actual facts.
Mr. Lansdorp insists the $6bn estimate for the Mars One Mission is feasible. (Image: Mars One)
Former NASA researcher, Dr. Joseph Roche, who spoke with Elmo Keep of Medium’s Matter blog, highlighted a list of shortcomings in the mission. He said that shortlisted candidates earned points to make it to the final twenty.
Dr. Roche alleged that candidates earned points which increased their chances of being selected if they bought Mars One merchandise and donated interview fees to the mission organizers.
In an interview (see video below), Mr. Lansdorp said Mars One values ‘good criticism’ because it helps him and his team improve the mission. However, he pointed out that what was reported over the past week contained several things that were simply ‘not true’.
The selection process
He has been criticized for the selection process, which several media outlets claimed depended on how much candidates donated. Mr. Lansdorp said many candidates who donated money were not selected, while a good number who gave no gifts were. He said this can be verified on the Mars One website.
Ms. Keeps said there had not been 200,000 applicants, but just 2,700. Mr. Lansdorp said she got this information from an NBC News analysis, which has since been taken down.
Mr. Lansdorp said:
“We have offered Elmo keep as the first journalist ever to have access to our list of 200,000 applications. She wasn’t interested in that, so it seems to me that she is more interested in writing sensational article about Mars One than in the truth”
Referring to the selection process, which several critics described as a joke, Mr. Lansdorp said it was rigorous and used basically the same medical check used by NASA for its astronauts.
Regarding giving Mars One donations from their interviews, Mr. Lansdorp said this is true, but it is up to the candidate. If they don’t want to, they can keep all their interview money.
Mars One estimates that the whole mission will cost just $6 billion. Mr. Lansdorp points out that NASA estimates have been around $35 billion for a similar project.
The much higher estimates newspapers have quoted from NASA involve a mission that goes to Mars, and then comes back to Earth. The Mars One mission is just a one-way voyage, Mr. Lansdorp stresses, which is less expensive.
Mars One said there would be an initial robotic scouting mission in 2018. However, there are no signs the organization has entered into any talks with aerospace companies or suppliers regarding this.
Video – Mars One Mission, Q&A regarding feasibility