Want to visit Mars? Applications being taken
At least 20,000 really adventurous people have applied for a crack at a permanent trip to the red planet.
After only one week, submissions to the Mars One project are pouring in -- 600 from China alone.
Although the trip and training sound daunting, the requirements for candidates are wide open: If you show resilience, adaptability, and curiosity, you might qualify. Scientific and astronaut's skills, however, are not required.
We might add that patience is a plus, since this particular one-way ticket to the red planet, offered by the Dutch organization Mars One, won't be available until 2023.
That doesn't seem to be deterring potential Mars explorers. In the last year, 10,000 people from 100 countries have expressed interest in the program, and now many applicants who have ponied up the application fee have submitted and shared their one-minute videos, which have been made public on the Mars One website.
The organization plans to have people vote on TV for the candidates they like the best. So yes, this process seems more reality show than "Right Stuff." In fact, over the span of a two-year televised competition, viewers will help sift through the candidates until 24 are chosen.
"Gone are the days when bravery and the number of hours flying a supersonic jet were the top criteria," said Norbert Kraft, Mars One's chief medical director and a former NASA senior researcher, in a statement.
He added, "For this mission of permanent settlement, we are more concerned with how well each astronaut lives and works with others and their ability to deal with a lifetime of challenges."
These lucky chosen colonists -- who must be at least 18 years old, be 157 cm (roughly 5-foot-2) tall, and have 20/20 vision -- will then endure six to eight years of training and will be grouped into teams of four, who will train together in simulated living conditions of the planet. And yes, an audience decides who will be the first four to settle on Mars.
Only four people at a time will travel to Mars. Then the plan is to launch four more settlers every two years.
The outfit behind this ambitious adventure is Mars One, which describes itself as a "not for profit" organization that plans on funding this pricey journey -- estimated to cost $6 billion -- to Mars with the proceeds from an interactive, global TV show the likes of which the world has never seen, from astronaut selection to training to, finally, liftoff.
Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp explained to Yahoo! News last year, "This would be 'real' reality TV -- adventure is automatically included; we don't have to add fake challenges." He continued, "By sending a new crew every two years, Mars will have a real, growing settlement of humans -- who would not like to follow that major event in human history?"