The announcement by Mars One about the reduction of the list of candidates for missions to Mars down to 100 individuals has gotten quite a bit of publicity. Many in the space community, however, point out the huge, if not insurmountable, hurdles that face the organization in getting to the distant Red Planet.
I prefer to focus on the fact that it is significant that the project has shown the world that there are plenty of talented, highly-educated people who are eager to go to Mars even without any guarantee of ever returning to earth. For example, here is a video profile of Dr. Leila Sucker, an emergency room MD, who made the cut to the final 100 candidates: Life On Mars: Leila Zucker on Vimeo (created by Melissa Balan and colleagues at Senior Post) –
It’s clear, though, that the only way Mars One can succeed is if SpaceX succeeds in achieving Elon Musk’s goal of lowering the cost of getting to Mars to a level that private individuals and groups can afford it. It’s no accident that the Mars One artwork shows SpaceX derived hardware. The odds are against SpaceX getting people to Mars by the 2020s but considering what the company has achieved and is in the process of achieving, the odds are steadily improving.
BTW: While the Mars One organizers talk about one-way missions, Elon emphasizes that going to Mars can only become affordable if the transports to get there come back to earth to be reused again and again. So there will in fact be opportunities for Mars One settlers to return if they want to come back.
The Mars One project to put an unmanned lander on Mars in the 2018 time frame appears to have hit cash-flow problems: Mars One Suspends Work on Robotic Missions – SpaceNews.
The leader of Mars One says they remain committed to the lander project – Jeff Foust on Twitter:
Mars One’s Bas Lansdorp did email me this morning to say that the 2018 robotic missions are still their “top priority.”