Tue. May 30th, 2023
The original Mars One application even had participants pay a $38 entry fee.

The original Mars One application even had participants pay a $38 entry fee.

Ars has expressed skepticism about the Mars One plan since news broke about it, and it seems a double shot was warranted. Today, writer Elmo Keep published an interview with Dr. Joseph Roche, a professor at Dublin’s Trinity School of Education with a PhD in physics and astrophysics who happened to be a Mars One finalist. While reaching the inner circle, Roche spoke out to detail some of his sketchy behind-the-scenes dealings with Dutch non-profit organization Mars One.

Mars One’s pitch was this: the company would accept applications from people around the world willing to take a one-way trip to Mars. The winning candidates would get a seat on the first manned mission to Mars, but the catch was they could die doing so.

The plan led to an interesting conversation: is exploration so intrinsic to an individual that one could give one’s life for it? Many dreamers said that it was so and that they could.

Yet there was an insidious side to the dream Mars One brought forth. That much was not right. The $6 billion budget seemed ridiculously low, and the company was light enough on details and partnerships to suggest that something was highly classified or highly suspicious.

Roche now seems to think it’s the latter, saying he never once personally met anyone from Mars One, despite being selected as one of the “Mars One Hundred” – the lucky 100 people who went on to the next level in the starship seat competition.

The professor told Keep that the ranking within Mars One is based on points; when you are selected to go through the application process, you become a member of the “Mars One Community” and gain points as you progress through each subsequent level. The points are random and have nothing to do with ranking, but “the only way to get more points is to buy Mars One merchandise or donate money to them,” Roche told Keep. So essentially people are probably paying their way to a final round.

The points awarded to members of the community are visible online as “supporter points” and help attract media attention (Points Retained for The protector‘s “Top 10 Mars One Hopefuls” list). Mars One then asks that community members who are paid to appear in the media donate 75 percent of their interview or speaking fees to the nonprofit.

In addition, it was previously suggested that Mars One could increase its $6 billion budget by signing a contract with TV production company Endemol that would show the Mars One project as a series of reality shows. Keep wrote today that Endemol has canceled the contract. That leaves Mars One with a huge bill that he has to pay himself if he moves forward.

Roche said he made his decision to speak out when he realized the Mars one selection process was a farce:

“I haven’t met anyone from Mars One in person,” he said. “Initially they had said there would be regional interviews… we would travel there, we would be interviewed, we would be tested over several days, and in my mind at least that sounded like something close to a legitimate astronaut selection process.

“But then they made us sign a non-disclosure agreement if we wanted to be interviewed, and then all of a sudden it went from a real regional interview over several days to a 10-minute Skype call.”

His concern is that Mars One’s lack of due diligence and its no-money attitude to support it could cause people to “lose faith in NASA and possibly even scientists.”

“If I was somehow associated with something that could harm the public perception of science, that’s my nightmare scenario,” Roche said.

By akfire1

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