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Mars One CEO responds to criticism of the spacefaring project

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Candidates paying to win is "simply a lie."

Bas Lansdorp is the CEO of Mars One, a company that's running a competition with the goal of establishing a human settlement on Mars by 2025. The project has faced much scrutiny since its announcement in 2012, but this week an interview with one of the final 100 candidates for the mission has sparked a debate about whether or not Mars One is a scam. Lansdorp has finally addressed some of the issues online and in a video published to Mars One's YouTube account.

"The suggestion was made that our candidates were selected on the basis of how much money they donate to Mars One, and that's just simply untrue," he says. He goes on to accuse Elmo Keep, the author of the accusatory piece, of making false claims about how the contest works. He specifically says the claim that contest participants were able to pay for a better chance to be selected was "simply a lie."

"She is more interested in writing a sensational article about Mars One."

"We offered Elmo Keep as the first journalist ever to have access to our list of 200,000 applications," Lansdorp says. "She was not interested in that, so it seems to me she is more interested in writing a sensational article about Mars One than in the truth."

Mars One has also released a written interview on its website that covers the same issues, though the references to Keep have been cut. Lansdorp's answers address things like losing the company's broadcast partner (the goal from the beginning has been to turn the entire project into a reality television show), how he expects to receive funding for the mission, and how he will vet the mission's final candidates. He doesn't, however, address the technical issues that Mars One has been criticized for. He also says that the company's milestone goals — landing a rover on Mars, cargo missions, and the eventual crewed missions — have all been delayed by two years. As of now, the company's plan wouldn't get humans to the red planet until 2027.

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