I recently went through one of my binges of investigating all recent events surrounding Mars One. They seem to, slowly, be forging onward toward their goals. They recently selected Seed as their university payload winner for their planned 2018 lander. Second round applicant candidates began interviews in December, which will be recorded and marshalled into a documentary set to air this spring. Most excitingly, Bas Landsdorp has mentioned several times that they are courting a business partner who might be willing to fund their entire operation.
Despite this progress, which is admittedly frustratingly slow, there remains a large body of the public who is adamant Mars One is nothing but a scam. They cite inconsistencies with the technological plan, vagueness regarding financials and applicant totals, and myriad other factors in support of this position. If you read through the comments of any video or article about Mars One, you will find many of these people condemning the organization.
I get that there are concerns, some more troubling the others. I understand decisions not to share financials that might damage public image, or to twist applicant totals in a way that makes things look better than they really are. I might or might not personally like those things, but I can understand the rationale for the good of the effort. Some of the technical matters sound like they may be real barriers, but I’m not sure how hung up on technology we should be when the results of the contracted feasibility studies with Lockheed, SSTL, and Paragon have not even been revealed. Of course, the lack of information there, according to some, also points to a scam.
The fact that Mars One has business arrangements with such prestigious companies is one major factor that makes me raise an eyebrow at those declaring a scam. I have to suspect that these companies would vet their partners to reduce damage to their own credibility. Aside from that, the business arrangements with these companies have costed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Last I checked, paying out big money to legitimate businesses was not the best strategy when raising scam money.
On top of this, the advisory board and staff of Mars One are loaded with prestigious scientists who I simply cannot imagine being duped by or complicit with a scam. I might imagine one or two people of that caliber, maybe, falling victim, but not as many as are affiliated.
The problem as I see it is just because people would prefer that the organization were handling things differently, it must be a scam. Do I wish that Mars One had more regular updates on their business arrangements? Yes. Do I wish that they were more open about their financial status? Absolutely. But these decisions are made for a reason, and I believe those on the inside believe they are the best decisions for the organization moving forward. They might not be, but that doesn’t inherently make it a scam. Will Mars One succeed? Honestly, probably not. But will their failure constitute a scam? I just don’t think so.
With at least the documentary of crew selection and a book coming out this year, I look forward to seeing what further progress is made. The initial crew selection and start of training is scheduled for this year, and should further legitimize the organization. Every substantive step forward will hopefully silence some naysayers, if not bring them on in support.