New Investigation Reveals the Ambitious 'Mars One' Project May Be a Scam—And If It Isn't, It's a Mess
When Mars One was founded by Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders in 2011, its stated goal was to establish a human settlement on Mars by using as much existing technology as possible. "As with the Apollo Moon landings, a human mission to Mars will inspire generations to believe that all things are possible, anything can be achieved," the company said. However, a new investigation from Inverse shows that Mars One's lofty ambitions may be hiding a titanic mess—or a straight-up scam.
Outer Places has been keeping an eye on Mars One for a while now, and every year seems to bring new embarrassments: independent scientists have come forward calling the company's plans unfeasible, accusations have appeared from participants that the project is a scheme to sell merch, and their infamous public debate with MIT students neatly eviscerated the company's top executive officers in front of a mass audience.
That hasn't stopped Mars One from announcing plans to build floating cities on Venus or one of Jupiter's moons, partly because a lot of people still want to believe in the company and its mission. That may change soon—Inverse has dug up new information on Mars One that may become the final nail in its coffin.
The report looked into several of Mars One's key claims, including that they are under a contract with Lockheed Martin (which ended years ago) and working with SpaceX to get transportation (they aren't).
It turns out that the oft-touted figure of 200,000 applicants to the Mars One mission is wholly unverifiable—the Chief Medical Officer of the company claims he's only seen 80,000 applications, while NBC claims that there were only 2,782, based on uploaded videos to the Mars One site (which are required with an application).
Research into Mars One's finances reveals that the company is in massive debt and attempted an abortive merger with a mobile company called InFin to raise funds and become publicly traded, which failed.
According to Brent Bos, a Mars One applicant and physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center who has undergone astronaut training previously, "They acted like they had a rigorous process in place, and it's been how many years, and they haven't done anything. They keep acting like it's real, but it's still sort of a crazy idea. They don't have any people who know what they're doing."
Mars One still claims to need just $6 billion to get their project off the ground, but after attempting to sell the project as the basis for a reality TV show and failing at every turn to provide a coherent plan to get to the Red Planet, they may be better off buying a copy of Kerbal Space Program and shuttering the rest of the company.