Planning for Mars One began in 2011 with discussions between the two founders, Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders. The feasibility of the idea was then researched with specialists and expert organizations, which discussed its financial, psychological and ethical aspects.
The Mars One project has no connection with Inspiration Mars, a similarly-timed project to send a married couple on a Mars flyby and return them to Earth over a period of 500 days.
In December 2013, Mars One announced plans for a robotic precursor mission in 2018, two years later than had been conceptually planned in the 2012 announcements. The robotic lander is to be "built Recent history by Lockheed Martin based on the design used for NASA’s Phoenix and InSight missions, as well as a communications orbiter built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd." In February 2015, Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology confirmed that contracts on the initial study phase begun in late 2013 had run out and additional contracts had not been received for further progress on the robotic missions. Plans have not been disclosed to raise the US$200 million or more needed to support the robotic mission.
Mars One selected a second-round pool of astronaut candidates in 2013 of 1058 people—"586 men and 472 women from 107 countries Recent history"—from a larger number of some 200,000 who showed interest on the Mars One website, although this number is heavily disputed. Mars One candidate Dr. Joseph Roche claims the number of initial applicants was only 2,761.
Mars One announced a partnership with Uwingu on 3 March 2014, stating that the program would use Uwingu's map of Mars in all of their planned missions. Kristian von Bengtson began work on Simulation Mars Home for crew on 24 March 2014.
The second-round pool was whittled down to 705 candidates (418 men and 287 women) in the beginning of May 2014. 353 were removed either for medical reasons or due Recent history to personal considerations. These selected persons will then begin the interview process following which several teams of two men and two women will be compiled. The teams will then begin training full-time for a future mission to Mars, while individuals and teams may be selected out during training if they are not deemed suitable for the mission.
On June 2, 2014, Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP) announced it has gained exclusive access to the Mars One.
On June 30, 2014, it was made public that Mars One seeks financial investment through a bidding process to send company experiments to Mars. The Recent history experiment slots will go to the highest bidder and will include company related ads, and the opportunity to have the company name on the robotic lander that's scheduled to carry the experiments to Mars in 2018.
Mars One selected a third-round pool of astronaut candidates in 2015 of 100 people — "50 men and 50 women who successfully passed the second round. The candidates come from all around the world, namely 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania".
In video posted on the 19th of March 2015, Lansdorp said that because of delays in the robotic precursor mission, the Recent history first crew will not set down on Mars until 2027.