Mars One — a program to send the first humans on a one-way trip to Mars by 2023 all while being documented in a reality-TV series — admittedly sounds far out there.
But after talking to Dutch founder Bas Lansdorp last year, we were fairly convinced that the program was not a hoax. Lansdorp appears to be serious, and the tens of thousands of people who have signed up so far think he is serious too.
Some in China, however, are not as convinced.
On Tuesday, major state-run newspaper "People's Daily" ran an article with the provocative title "Settlement on Mars a hoax? Over 10,000 Chinese people fall for it."
The article alleges that despite raising $100,000 in application fees from Chinese hopefuls alone, the trip is unlikely to happen by 2023. The multi-billion-dollar project, which is run out of a rented office, raises another red flag. According to People's Daily, a Chinese scholar told the paper that he was not surprised that Mars One was a "blatant commercial hype."
While Mars One has been criticized in the media for everything from the cost to the feasibility, this is the first time such a widely-read publication has explicitly labeled it a hoax.
The sentiment has picked up steam in China. State news agency Xinhua wrote an article that discussed the "soaring doubts" surrounding the project. In response, Mars One was forced to defend intentions in an statement.
Not all Chinese citizens are negative about the project, however. In a country where so many dream of emigrating, the idea of leaving China to live the rest of one's life on Mars probably holds some charm.
"We live in a country without dreams," Ma Qiang, a former policeman from Sichuan province who applied last month, told the South China Morning Post. "Our people should be allowed to dream for something that seems impossible today but possible with an effort tomorrow, not discouraged and scared."
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