Mars One Gets 80,000 Applications in Two Weeks, Can It Work?

By: | May 10th, 2013

There will be an attempt to reach Mars and colonize it over the next half century but “Mars One Project” (MOP) will not be leading the charge. MOP may create some buzz about a Mars mission and will likely make millions from their unarguably impressive publicity campaign but the organization doesn’t pass the science and engineering “sniff test.”

When the Aerospace Industry is Ready, It Will Happen

If humanity is to attempt to reach Mars and establish a colony it will require a multinational effort of leading countries, space agencies, and corporations who are willing to loosen their purse strings and assemble the best engineering, science and technology team in history. In a New York times article the Mars Society estimates the costs at $400 billion in today’s dollars. Mars One’s revenue model “isn’t credible” for raising this kind of money, according to Dani Eder of the Space Systems Division of Boeing.

When the leading powers of the world start putting together such a team, the tiny “Mars One Project”, long on dreams but woefully short on capabilities, will be left at the altar.

Who is MOP?

Interplanetary Media Group (IMG), a for-profit company, has created the Mars One Project (MOP), a nonprofit foundation, which seeks to establish a human colony on Mars using readily available technology by 2023.  IMG is securing investments, managing and selling broadcasting rights for a reality show of the training, launch, mission and colony, and controlling licensing fees for the sale of merchandise: T-shirts, Hoodies, coffee mugs and posters now available! MOP will own the Mars settlement and employ the project management team. IMG to date has 90% control of MOP.

Red Flags

One would think this brief overview of the project would send up red flags as to the organization’s credibility and ability to complete the most ambitious project in human history. The fact that 75,000 people have signed up to become astronauts does not lend credibility to the project. Photos of applicants on Mars-One website and their backgrounds shows applicants who probably couldn’t get a job flipping burgers.

Somewhat surprisingly, the address of the Mars One is not a shady PO Box in Las Vegas. However, the management team of the Mars One project is top heavy with sales, marketing and journalists and disproportionately represented by Dutch nationals. A co-founder of the project graduated with a Masters degree in mechanical engineering from Twente University, never heard of it either, in 2003 giving him less than a decade of experience working in the real world.

The Mars One website lists an somewhat impressive list of “Ambassadors” including one Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist and more journalists, motivational speakers, freelancers and dreamers.

In short it looks as though a good idea, namely, establishing a base on Mars has, at least temporarily, been hijacked by a bunch of sales and marketing types that are long on hype but short on credibility.

“A” for Sales & Marketing

You’ve got to hand it to the people at Mars One for their initiative and being the first to popularize the Mars Colony concept. As the project will undoubtedly rely heavily on funding, if Mars One can raise money their organization may gain credibility and have a role in the eventual project.

One Way Mission?

Bas Lansdorp, aforesaid co-founder of the project has described the project as a one-way mission. One would suppose this adds glamour and excitement to the fantasy but would an organization like NASA, backed by the US government, ever agree to a one-way mission?

Existing Technologies?

Claims that existing technologies could be used for the project don’t make a lot of sense as transit times to Mars are just too long given existing technology. With advances and a launch date of 2023 one would imagine humans will come up with engines and rockets that will allow round trips to the red planet.

Other Players in this Game

According to NBC News there are many other players in the Mars exploration game:

  • Elon Musk, SpaceX
  • The Golden Spike Company
  • Inspiration Mars Foundation
  • Paragon Space Development Corp.
  • NASA and/or a consortium of other major space programs: Russia, Japan, France, UK, China, etc.
David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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