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Mars One: 2018 unmanned mission delayed, but we will send astronauts to Mars

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Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp has confirmed that they have delayed their unmanned mission to Mars, which was scheduled for launch in 2018, to 2020 owing to funding and related paperwork that have taken more time than anticipated.

Lansdorp confirmed the delay in an interview wherein talked about a range of things about the project and refuted claims by the press that the project was a farce and that no one was going to Mars. The main motive behind the interview seemed to bring forward the CEO’s reaction to a recent article by Elmo Keep on Medium where she had questioned the overarching goals of the project and the processes adopted by the non-profit organisation.

Answering a question about project’s funding, Lansdorp revealed that they have had a successful round of funding late last year, but the paperwork related to the funding haven’t been finalised. He said that they expect the paperwork to be sorted in summer this year and owing to this delay, they will have to delay their unmanned mission in 2018 to 2020.

Lansdorp talked about the budgeting of the project and is optimistic that they can pull off what they have envisaged in $6 billion. 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 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’.

Elmo raised questions on the astronaut selection process – specifically the way how candidates were selected what she claimed was based on how much donations they 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.