It’s not certain if it’s a mark of how miserable people are feeling about life on terra firma, or an indication of just how far people are prepared to go to satiate their appetite for adventure (possibly a mixture of the two?), but 100,000+ applications for a one-way ticket to Mars is an impressive figure in anyone’s book.
We’re talking about the Mars One project; you may have already heard of it. The Dutch-based company behind the plan – and yes, it is for real – wants to colonize the red planet, kicking things off in nine years’ time with its very first mission.
The application process, which opened in April, costs $38 and involves submitting a resume, a letter outlining the motivation behind your application, and a video – a selection of which can be viewed here – explaining why you’d like to be considered.
So far, 30,000 US citizens aged 18 or over have signed up, with many more expected before the process closes on August 31.
Mission date: 2022
The plan is to select a group of 40 of the best applicants from around the world by the end of this year, before whittling it down to just four – two men and two women. If all goes to plan, the mission will blast off in September 2022, arriving on Mars seven months later in April 2023. Another four people would be sent to Mars two years later.
Earth-based training will include learning how to grow and maintain crops, developing skills for repairing and maintaining habitat structures, and wide-ranging medical training.
“What we want to do is tell the story to the world when humans go to Mars, when they settle on Mars and build a new Earth, a new planet,” Mars One CEO and co-founder Bas Lansdorp told CNN recently. “This is one of the most exciting things that ever happened, and we want to share the story with the entire world.”
If you were thinking this is a mission fraught with difficulty and danger, you’d be absolutely right. Being stuck in a tiny spacecraft for months on end while existing on a diet of, for example, sweat, urine and printed pizza, is certain to push the astronauts to their physical and psychological limits. And then there’s the radiation to deal with.
The Mars One team says on its website that the mission’s biggest challenge is acquiring funding. “Once we do, it is on,” it says. And how much exactly does it need to raise? “Mars One estimates the cost of putting the first four people on Mars at about six billion US dollars,” the team says, though it’s not clear if that includes the cost of the pizza.