More Than 78,000 Apply for a One-Way Trip to Mars

Colonists would stay on the Red Planet for the rest of their lives.

Ever wanted to leave planet Earth behind for a one-way ticket to Mars? Here is your chance to apply for a mission that claims to make it possible.

More than 78,000 people have signed up for Mars One, a Dutch company’s project that aims to put four people on the Red Planet every two years, starting in April 2023.

Among those who applied to leave Earth behind forever are a self-described spacecraft engineer from MIT and an award-winning author of science fiction.

“Going to Mars would make me feel like I am a true 'Star Trek' officer,” said Michael Archavian, one of the many applicants who works as a repairman.

He said that if selected he would "do a lot of exploring, see the sites, stay up at night to see the dual moons.”

The project aims to be funded by a media event fashioned after a reality show and even “Big Brother” co-creator Paul Rome is on board. If it all sounds too good to be true, the company is also being backed by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Gerard’t Hooft.

"My first impression was that this is an extraordinary project by people with vision, imagination," Hooft said in a Mars One promotional video. "But my first reaction was I think like anyone who would be confronted by such an idea: this will never work."

Colonists would stay on the red planet for the rest of their lives, eliminating the challenge of returning them to Earth.

The Mars One project has already garnered applicants from over 120 countries -- all within two weeks of its 19-week application period. Most applicants are from the U.S. (17,324), followed by China (10,241) and the U.K. (3,581). Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Argentina and India also boasted a high number of applicants.

“This is turning out to be the most desired job in history,” said Bas Lansdorp, Mars One co-founder and CEO in a press statement. “These numbers put us right on track for our goal of half a million applicants.”

The application process forces would-be Mars pioneers to reflect on their life's purpose on Earth. They are required to explain their motivation to go to Mars in a one-minute video, some of which have been posted on YouTube. The application process extends until August 31 and charges a fee from $5 to $75, depending on the country.

For Andrew Rader, who has a PhD in aeronautical engineering from MIT and specialized in long duration human spaceflight, going to Mars is “the next great leap for humanity.”

“In the history of exploration, people have gone through a lot worse for a lot less,” Rader wrote in an e-mail. “I don't see a one-way mission to Mars as being fundamentally different from leaving England in 1790 to travel to Australia for six months on a rickety old sailing ship, facing dangers of storms, pirates, and shipwrecks, never to return or see your family again - and at least in this case, the food and communication with family will be better.”

American scientist and award-winning science fiction author David Brin explained that the mission’s purpose is to “promote thought, discussion and flat-out fun.” An applicant himself, Brin said he would “fight like hell to survive” and gather scientific data to help the next generation of colonists.

“And I'd write, using words to capture as much of the experience -- the Martian desolation in all of its stark beauty and promise - as possible,” he added.

While the idea of migrating to a whole new planet might scare some people, Francisco Jauregui from Mexico believes that Mars One is a mission he is “willing to die for.”

“My curiosity is way bigger than my fears,” said the 32-year-old, who currently works for a plastic containers factory. “Exploration is in human nature.”

Ashley Owl, a 21-year-old Cuban-American in Miami who volunteers at a hospital there, admitted that watching too many science fiction movies and TV shows had “desensitized” her to fear. “It just makes me to want to explore even more,” she said.

The announcement of the Mars One application flood came during an important week for Mars exploration enthusiasts. NASA officials, and various scientists and engineers met for the Humans 2 Mars summit in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. And famed Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin this week released his book “Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration,” which was co-authored with veteran space reporter Leonard David. 

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