When the Dutch nonprofit Mars One first announced they’d be taking applications for those interested in taking a permanent trip to Mars by 2023, the idea seemed like more of a novelty than a reality. But now that the application process has been going on for some days, the overwhelming response has made me realize that, even if this project doesn’t reach its goals, we’ll still be getting a reality show out of it. So it’s like lose-lose, right?
So, how responsive were potential Marstronauts? Well over 20,000 people have reportedly submitted their one-minute videos and their $25 entry fees. Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders, co-founders of Mars One, aim to get as many as 500,000 applications, if not more so, in the next two years of the selection process. They will eventually whittle all the applicants down to 24, and those 24 will receive astronaut training in front of a worldwide audience, who will then see that group shrink down to the four final Mars settlers. They’re also trying to raise $6 billion to get their project fully funded, and while that’s a huge number at the outset, only 240 million people need to apply in order for that goal to be reached. So tell your family and 240 million of your closest friends about it.
Also of note is the high level of interest in China, where over 600 citizens have applied. Not a huge number for such a populated country, but they’re also very young in the space race, and as a nation, they tend to do well with new technologies in a short time.
A story in China Daily quotes an optimistic but somewhat cynical person, Ma Qing, who says, “I think the chance to be part of the project is a cool way for me to change a dull daily life. Besides, the air on Mars must be much cleaner and easier to breathe.” And while that point of view certainly reflects my own, I side more with Chang Tianxing, who wisely states, “I think such a task is only suitable for senior, experienced astronauts. Exploring life on Mars, with everything starting from scratch, is mission impossible for us.”
Indeed. If the end goal was building the most efficient house in the world, would you want a crowdsourced group of talent contest winners, or would you want actual construction workers, electricians, and plumbers?
In any case, feel free to send in your own application, and remember you only get a minute, so keep the interpretive dance to a minimum.