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One of the finalists in the one-way-to-Mars competition by the company Mars One has now accused the company of fraud.
Most egregiously, many media outlets continue to report that Mars One received applications from 200,000 people who would be happy to die on another planet — when the number it actually received was 2,761.
As [finalist Joseph] Roche observed the process from an insider’s perspective, his concerns increased. Chief among them: that some leading contenders for the mission had bought their way into that position, and are being encouraged to “donate” any appearance fees back to Mars One — which seemed to him very strange for an outfit that needs billions of dollars to complete its objective. “When you join the ‘Mars One Community,’ which happens automatically if you applied as a candidate, they start giving you points,” Roche explained to me in an email. “You get points for getting through each round of the selection process (but just an arbitrary number of points, not anything to do with ranking), and then the only way to get more points is to buy merchandise from Mars One or to donate money to them.”
There’s more at the link. Essentially, the whole operation has apparently devolved into a petty scam to milk money from the finalists themselves.
None of this surprises me. From the beginning I considered the whole proposal unrealistic, which thus almost forced the people in charge to commit fraud.