Should you sign up?
Mars One, a Netherlands-based non-profit organization, has recently started taking applications to be one of four pioneers to set up a permanent colony on Mars. Once these four have set up a base camp, the idea is to ship out more colonists every two years and expand. According to Space.com, Mars One plans to finance this operation “by staging a global reality-TV event, with cameras documenting all phases of the mission from astronaut selection to the colonists’ first years on the Red Planet.” This sounds equal parts wonderful and terrifying to me.
So far, plenty of people are interested in this job offer. As of a few days ago, the number was already at 78,000 applicants.
The application period opened on April 22, 2013, and continues until August 31. It’s actually fairly easy to apply: You have to be at least 18 years of age, and you must also submit a one-minute video to Mars One that explains your motivation for becoming a Martian settler. And anybody in the world can apply. Also, you can watch all of the applicants’ videos on Mars Ones’ website.
“With [that many] applications in two weeks, this is turning out to be the most desired job in history,” Mars One CEO and co-founder Bas Lansdorp said in a statement. “These numbers put us right on track for our goal of half a million applicants.”
Particularly interesting in this whole process is that Mars One charges an application fee ranging from $5 to $75 based on the wealth of the applicant’s home country. Landsdorp says that citizens of the United States pay $38. While the US clearly isn’t the wealthiest country, they are at least leading in applications so far, followed closely by China, and not-so-closely by the UK.
According to Space.com, when the application process closes, reviewers will pick 50 to 100 candidates from each of the 300 regions around the world that Mars One has identified. By 2015, this pool will be whittled down to a total of 28 to 40 candidates, officials said. This core group will be split into groups of four, which will train for their one-way Mars mission for about seven years. Finally, an audience vote will pick one of these groups to be humanity’s first visitors to the Red Planet.
While the Mars One mission is likely to be the first off the ground, it is hardly the only scheduled mission to the Red Planet. A number of private space companies have announced similar plans, some of which include sending probes and rovers ahead of human travelers. It still remains unclear whether Mars One will reach its deadline of launching people to Mars before the end of decade. A number of experts have questioned the timeline, saying the available technology makes launching a mission to Mars far beyond the capability of a company founded less than a year ago.