In 2013, the world started dreaming big about travel to Mars when Mars One revealed its own big plan: to send people on a one-way trip to the red planet, something that horrified some and inspired others. The non-profit organization had a sensationalist way of going about things: it wanted video applications, and there were even rumbles about turning the project into a reality TV show. More than 200,000 applications were received, according to different sources that cropped up last year, but fast-forward into 2015 and the doubts have continued to grow.
The entire project has been criticized by many as flawed, not possible at this point in time, and even unethical, at least in regards to sending people on a trip from which they can never return. Mars One has pushed back against many of these claims, but the doubts have continued regardless and now some are calling the entire project a scam.
One finalist for the project, Dr. Joseph Roche, who holds a Ph.D in astrophysics and physics, is among those with doubts. He was recently interviewed by Elmo Keep, who revealed the troubles in a piece on Medium today. Roche is among the top 100 candidates chosen to take the journey, but he says that he was selected based on only his video application, a simple questionnaire, passing a medical exam with one’s own doctor, and then having a 10-minute Skype interview — something that replaced the previously stated regional interviews that were originally slated to take place.
More concerning, however, is the reported grab for cash Mars One has set up. According to the interview, one becomes part of the so-called Mars One Community when they send in an application. After that happens, they’re then part of a points system in which they get points for selection rounds and, later on, by buying Mars One merchandise or donating money — the latter of which, says Roche, includes Mars One requesting 75-percent of any funds an applicant gets for interviews or related appearances.
Another issue is that, according to the interview, the number of applications previously reported was seriously inflated, and the actual number of applications received is said to have been only 2,761 — a far cry from the 200k+ previously stated. In addition, the deal with Endemol, a television production company, is said to have fallen through…along with the billions of dollars Mars One expected from it.