Applications now open for a (one-way) trip to Mars

Kelly O'Mara

Are you over 18? Don’t have anything to do for the next 10 years? Want to go somewhere no one else has ever been?

Apply to be a Mars colonizing astronaut.

Don’t think you have what it takes to be an astronaut? Or a settler? Don’t worry. The requirements aren’t as strict as one might suppose for a space mission. They include “have a good sense of play and spirit of playfulness” and be “at your best when things are at their worst” and, of course, “have a ‘Can do!’ attitude.”

The project was announced in 2012 by Dutch company Mars One, whose goal is to create a series of settler colonies on Mars in 2023. The entire trip, including the selection process, training, and eventual landing, will be filmed and televised as part of a reality-style TV show.

And, it’s going to take nearly the whole 10 years between now and launch to train the selected travelers.

The selection criteria to be picked as an astronaut/settler – divided into five categories: resiliency, adaptability, ability to trust, curiosity, creativity/resourcefulness – were announced in early this month. Selection will take place over the course of this year and will, thankfully, include medical tests, before six teams of four are picked to begin the full-time work of preparing for their new lives.

But, there’s no need to have any skills other than those five broad categories.

“If they are smart, we can teach them medical skills, food production skills, and (mechanical) repair skills in the eight years that we will train them,” said Bas Lansdorp, Mars One co-founder and general director. “The biggest challenge is really keeping the group together under such tough conditions. You can't teach them to have the right personality, so that is what we will select for.”

Lansdorp said they’ve already received 1,000 applications before even sending out a press release about the selection process. Now, they have 18,000 who have subscribed to receive more updates and information – and will likely get more who apply to become a Mars astronaut and eventual resident.

The only downside to being a Mars astronaut (besides the harsh conditions and planet generally unsuited for human habitation)? It’s a one-way trip.

“Once on Mars, there is no means to return to Earth. Mars is home,” says the Mars One site. Welcome home.