There's a nerd in Australia who declined a relationship with a cute girl and moved back in his parents' house to dedicate himself full-time to preparing for Mars, by drumming up popular support, talking to kids in schools, and writing a book about it. Mars One is made up of three people, two in the Netherlands and one in San Jose. One of them is a NASA psychologist who does the personality screening for applicants.
“Anybody we didn’t consider serious we considered kind of an idiot. In the videos, some applied naked. I mean, how can you come to a job interview and apply naked? So that was quite easy.”
The Mars One people believe that they can make it happen, but everything technological on their website is vague as fuck and their tech expert refused to do an interview because he was "too busy". The Australian nerd has done a number of legitimately interesting things with his life, but is dead-set on Mars now. There's a guy at NASA who thinks Mars One is "kinda cool". The author is fully aware that going to Mars would mean shitty, uncomfortable life all alone until you die, and that gave him a nightmare. This is the CEO of Mars One:
Lansdorp’s background is in wind energy, but he now bills his professional areas of expertise as “entrepreneurship, public speaking, start-ups.”
Mars One claims that its projected budget is so low because it doesn't have to deal with government contractors. The NASA guy said "that's wrong". Mars One also says that they can be riskier and less safe, and save money that way. Mars One is not affiliated with SpaceX, but they are affiliated with Lockheed Martin. Lockheed is going to do feasibility tests for them on the design of their ship.
They're going to get them the design of their ship as soon as some university designs it for them. (No particular university, they're not picky.) They've also got other contracts, including one with the company behind Big Brother, because the reality show they make out of training for the mission to Mars is a crucial part of their mission. They bet they can get eight billion dollars for this, based on the viewership of the Olympics.
There is the small problem of not having the money until you have the show and not having the show until you have the technology and not having the technology until you have the money and possibly not having the technology in time, or ever, which is why, Mars One says on its website, the schedule is flexible.
There's a guy who sued NASA over not investigating a rock that could have been alien life on Mars. He wrote a paper about funding a Mars mission through a reality show in 2010
Actual Astronaut Chris Hadfield talks about how poorly planned Mars One is. A bunch of MIT grad students put together a paper that evaluated Mars One's chances of success, and the contained atmosphere would quickly become toxic and the first death would occur 68 days after landing. Their funding sources are kind of dumb and they refused to give him any clear answer on the number of applicants.
He comes away from all this with an appreciation for the difficulty and danger of space flight, and says that Mars One doesn't care about the consequences, both for the actual mission and for people who are putting their faith in them. The nerd from the beginning of the story knows there's shit-all chance of anything happening, but hope is important.