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Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp says project is not farce; lambasts bad press

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Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp has lambasted recent criticism of the project, which have raised questions on almost each aspect of the project, stating that the reports are anything but the truth and pegged an article by journalist Elmo Keep as a sensational one that is devoid of actual facts.

Ever since Mars One has been conceived, there have been multiple reports that raise question on each aspect of the project – right from the design to budgeting to execution plans.An article by Keep more or less assimilates all the concerns with numbers that she says are spot on; however, Lansdorp is defensive and in a new interview the Mars One CEO has refuted all the claims put forward by Keep. [Read More: Ex-Canadian astronaut on Mars One: “Nobody is going anywhere in 10 years”]

Lansdorp said in the interview that at Mars One they value ‘good criticism’ as it helps them to improve their mission. He said that the recent bad press was due to an article by Keep which contains quite a few things are ‘not true’.

One of the things that Elmo talked about was the selection process – specifically the way how candidates were selected based on donations made. To this allegation, Lansdrop said that this was simply ‘untrue’ and people can browse through the Mars One website to find out the truth. He said that quite a few candidates have been selected who have never donated any money and there were those who have made significant contributions but haven’t made it through.

He also refuted Keep’s claims that there were just over 2,700 applicants which were actually based on an analysis by NBC News – the report which has since been taken down.

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“We have offered Elmo keep as the first journalist ever to have access to our list of 200,000 applications. She wasn’t interested in that, so it seems to me that she is more interested in writing sensational article about Mars One than in the truth”, Lansdorp said.

As far as the selection process goes, he maintained that their interview process was rigorous and that it involved psychological questions. Out of the 200,000 applicants they narrowed down to 1000 applicants who then underwent a medical check – basically the same medical check that NASA does for its astronauts following which the candidates underwent an interview. The results was a tally of 100 candidates – 50 men and 50 women – who will now go through more selection processes.

He admitted that they have demanded revenue share from the money that candidates make from their interviews or events about Mars One, which he claims that the candidates are willing to do. He even stressed that quite a few candidates are ready to donate all the money to the project – something he says is up to the candidates.
The next selection phase will be a more rigorous one involving team based and individual tasks with a lot more interviews and a bigger selection committee.

Budgeting has been a major talking point in almost all Mars One articles and with a comparatively smaller $6 billion budget, experts have questioned the feasibility. Lansdorp explained that NASA’s budget estimates have been in tune of $35 billion for a similar project, but he points out that the space agency has taken into account a return trip as well whereas Mars One isn’t going to bring anyone back as it’s a one-way mission.

The Mars One CEO stressed that their $6 billion figure has come after a series of discussions with people who have been working with space agencies for their space missions including aerospace experts from around the world including those who have with the missions like International Space Station (ISS).

Lansdorp then talks about the funding, first unmanned mission of the project to Mars, the complexity of the mission and so on. Watch the video [embedded above] for the full interview.