Media coverage will provide the main funding for the mission, Mars One said. Publicity is key, and the media event begins now with the casting of the astronauts.
"Not unlike the televised events of the Olympic Games, Mars One intends to maintain an ongoing, global media event, from astronaut selection to training, from liftoff to landing," it says.
How much money will that yield? It's tough to say, but the NCAA projects it will take in $700 million for television broadcast rights for its 2013 college sporting events.
Lansdorp said that after consulting with media experts and ad agencies, he's confident life on Mars will remain a hit for decades on Earth and will be able to weather any financial crisis or war on Earth.
"If humans land on Mars, everyone will want to watch," he said. "It will be bigger than the Olympic Games."
If all goes well, Earthling television viewers can look forward to a decades-long reality show, though Lansdorp said the astronauts will be allowed to turn the cameras off at times.
It's not just about the hype
The spokesman for the aerospace company credits Mars One for creating a media spectacle and marrying it to technology.
"They very aggressively seem to be pursuing the reality-TV angle," he said.
It has gotten the small company to a stage that it can begin feasibility studies with aerospace companies, he said. It's also allowing scientists to work on ideas they otherwise might not have been able to pursue.
"It may fund development that would otherwise not get funded," he said.
The aerospace spokesman is hopeful Lansdorp and his team may one day say, "Mission accomplished." Even if they don't, though, they will likely reach other milestones.
"We can't predict how far they'll get," he said.
If the mission flops, Lansdorp has ideas about what the nonprofit would do with any leftover money: Donate it to organizations that support space travel, such as the Planetary Society.
You might be thinking that $6 billion would be better spent on Earth, but Lansdorp says the money won't mean much on our planet.
Besides, he said, "I don't have a business case to solve the problems on Earth. I have a really good business case to get humans to Mars."