In just two weeks, more than 78,000 people from more than 120 countries have applied to Mars One, a Netherlands-based group that wants to turn the colonizing of Mars into a reality television. They plan to have a human settlement on the Red Planet within ten years.
Applicants don't need any experience in rocket science or astrophysics. "What we are looking for is not restricted to a particular background," said Norbert Kraft, the chief medical officer for the group in a statement. "From Round 1 we will take forward the most committed, creative, resilient and motivated applicants."
Mars One co-founder Bas Landsorp told the Los Angeles Times that there is still a lot of fundraising and engineering to be done before the volunteer colonists can be sent on their one-way trip to Mars.
The plan is to have 28 to 40 candidates selected by 2015. Those candidates will train then in groups for about seven years, and then an audience will vote on which group will fly to Mars.
Landsorp estimates it will cost $6 billion to send people to Mars and make the planet habitable for them when they get there. He's hoping to raise part of those funds through the application process, and with a subsequent worldwide reality show.
In the U.S., the application fee is $38. Many applicants have made their application videos public on the Mars One website. Some applicants love space, have military training, or are just adventurous. Others have more somber reasons for going.
One 53-year-old man from Singapore says in his video that he wants to go to Mars because his wife passed recently, and his youngest child is about to be grown, and he doesn't want to be alone. He says he is still fit and completes marathons, and that he wants to live a "meaningful life."