SPACE

200,000 from 140 countries apply for one-way ticket to Mars

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 2:57am
AFP

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More than 200,000 people from 140 countries, including more than 13,000 from China, have applied to go to Mars and never return, the group behind an ambitious venture to colonise the inhospitable red planet said.

Bas Lansdorp, a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur, plans to establish a permanent base on Mars in a mission he hopes will take off in 2022 if he can find the necessary US$6 billion.

A quarter of the 202,586 applicants for the one-way trip are Americans, said Mars One, the non-profit group which initiated its hunt for "would-be Mars settlers" in April.

Of the 202,586 applications received by Mars One, 47,654 came from the US. India had the second-highest number of applicants with 20,747, followed by China (13,176), Brazil (10,289) and Great Britain (8,497).

Five per cent of applicants were from Brazil.

By 2015, Mars One expects to put up to 10 four-member teams through intensive training, with the first of those teams setting off for Mars in 2023 on a high-risk journey that would take seven months to complete.

If they survive the trip, the human Martians will have to deal with minus 55 degrees C temperatures in a desert-like atmosphere that consists mainly of carbon dioxide.

They'll also have to consent to being observed back on earth full-time as stars of a reality televisionshow that would help cover expenses. The project has the support of Gerard 't Hooft, the Dutch joint winner of the Nobel prize for physics in 1999.

"The long-term aim is to have a lasting colony," said 't Hooft in April. "This expansion will not be easy. How soon that will be accomplished is anyone's guess."

The US space agency Nasa has expressed scepticism about the viability of Lansdorp's plan, saying the technology to establish a human colony on Mars does not exist.

Mars One says on its website that the mission is a decade-long endeavour, with funding intended to come from the global audience of an interactive, televised broadcast of the mission.

So far, there have been only unmanned missions to Mars undertaken by Nasa, which has signalled its intent to send astronauts there within 20 years.