I still love Mars One

I loved the announcement of Mars One back in 2012, but I always suspected that the project was meant as a scam from day one, the real business plan being to grab some cash and go.

I wrote in the comments:

“I wish the very best to this deliciously creative, irreverent, and subversive project, and I will follow it with a lot of attention. Of course I suspect that the real business plan may be cashing out and disappearing after the first reality show for the selection of astronauts, but I really hope it is for real… Perhaps this is the real business plan. In today’s scamonomy, I wouldn’t be surprised. But let’s stay optimist for a while, I totally love this project.”

My best guess was (still is) that they would run a reality show season or two for the selection of the final team of astronaut, and then take the money and run without even thinking about Mars (where they never wanted to go).

Now it seems that the project is a scam as I suspected, but know what? I still love Mars One.

The idea to fund space exploration with a reality show is so deliciously irreverent and so much more fun than the dull bureauspeak (a synthetic language practiced by bureaucrats everywhere, with special rules designed to hide the meaningless stupidity of bureaucratic bullshit) that we hear from “real space agencies” (scare quotes intended and deserved) that I can’t not love it.

Space was part of the popular culture in the 1960s, and that got us to the Moon. We can, should, and must leave the cradle Earth behind and become an interstellar galactic civilization, but that won’t happen without public enthusiasm for manned space missions and colonization. The Mars One team understood that space narratives can only capture public enthusiasm if they are stories of people – they understood that space must move from the “serious” press that nobody reads to the gossip press that everyone reads. OK, perhaps their project was meant as a scam from day one, but they had the right idea.

I hope somebody will do a Mars One for real. Imagine how much money a reality show from Mars could make, and how much fun it would be for us here on Earth. Imagine the waves of enthusiasm for space colonization that it could generate, and the political support and funding for space that would follow.

Image from Wikimedia Commons.