Mars One boots Joseph Roche from Mars programme for ‘breaching confidentiality’

19 Mar 2015

Trinity College Dublin assistant professor Joseph Roche

Dr Joseph Roche is no longer in the running for the Mars One mission after the mission’s organisers confirmed he had been dropped from the shortlist for breaching confidentiality.

A spokesperson for Mars One told this morning’s Morning Ireland programme on RTÉ Radio 1 that Roche is no longer in the running for the mission, having breached confidentiality rules by speaking out about the mission.

Roche had made the final shortlist of 100 after battling more than 200,000 other applicants who dreamed of going on a one-way trip to the red planet. The mission plans to establish a human colony on Mars with new humans arriving there every two years.

Future Human

In recent days, the Irishman caused an online storm when he spoke out about his doubts about the viability of the project in an article on Medium.

Roche, an assistant professor at Trinity College Dublin, raised doubts about the mission’s selection process, which he said awards points based on who can raise the most money for the project.

He also said that so far there have been no face-to-face meetings with the organisers except for a 10-minute interview conducted over Skype.

He also said that if candidates are paid for interviews with the media they are obliged to hand over 75pc of profits to Mars One.

It is understood that a TV deal with Endemol that could have netted US$6bn has fallen through.

Roche also questioned the viability of sending 100 people on a one-way mission to Mars, especially when compared with US space agency NASA, which will only consider candidates as astronaut material if they’ve logged 1,000 hours of flight time as professional pilots.

“My nightmare about it is that people continue to support it and give it money and attention, and it then gets to the point where it inevitably falls on its face,” said Roche in the Medium interview. If, as a result, “people lose faith in NASA and possibly even in scientists, then that’s the polar opposite of what I’m about. If I was somehow linked to something that could do damage to the public perception of science, that is my nightmare scenario.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years