The Mars One mission has been met with intense skepticism throughout its brief existence; it’s been called dangerous, improbable, even a scam. The organization’s basic goal – to land the first humans on Mars in an attempt to create a permanent human colony by 2027 – undoubtedly raises eyebrows. With criticisms of the mission’s selection processes, safety, and ultimate feasibility, many doubt that the mission will ever get off the ground.
Here’s an unfortunate truth: the government doesn’t give a shit about space exploration anymore. Or rather, it gives .5 percent of a shit about space exploration; that’s the amount of the Federal Budget given to NASA by the US government in 2015. As a point of comparison, the government
However, there are many problems that private space exploration has yet to overcome. For one, the capital necessary to successfully fund a venture into space would have to be both enormous and steady. With something as unpredictable and dangerous as space travel, attaining that capital through investors would be a gamble; one accident and it could mean millions down the drain. That’s why most of the big names in private space exploration – SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin – were all founded by owners of well-established companies (PayPal, Virgin Group, and Amazon, respectively). As promising as these companies may be, an entire industry cannot be propelled solely by the endeavors of a few motivated individuals.
Private investors and eccentric billionaires can’t be completely relied on for the funding of private space exploration. This is where Mars One shines; Mars One intends to partially fund their project through crowdfunding. In addition, Mars One plans to monetize the mission with sponsorships and broadcasting rights as they document the mission for the whole world to see.
This is why we can’t be cynical with endeavors like Mars One. Yes, the organization’s methods are sketchy. Yes, the mission will in all likelihood fail. I’m not going to dispute facts or argue against a scientific consensus. But we shouldn’t completely discount the project and throw the baby out with the bathwater; its grasp of modern culture is something all space organizations can and should learn from. Most importantly, we can’t let cynicism define something as important as space travel, especially when it’s future depends on public opinion now more than ever. So instead of ridicule, let’s treat Mars One with the serious consideration it deserves.