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Posted at 06:01 PM ET, 04/22/2013

Mars One program opens first round of applications for one-way ticket to the red planet


Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp, left, holds a news conference in New York on April 22 to announce the launch of astronaut selection for a Mars space mission project. (Emmanuel Dunand - AFP/Getty Images)

If you’re interested in putting Earth in the rear-view mirror permanently — yes, permanently — then you may want to consider applying to become a Mars One astronaut.

The Dutch nonprofit openned its first round of the application process Monday, giving anyone able to pay the registration fee an opportunity to apply for a slot on the one-way trip to the red planet. The first of four rounds of applications will be open for five months, ending Aug. 31. The application fee is adjusted based on the per capita GDP of the applicants’ home country. That means, for U.S. applicants, it’s a $38 price tag.

“From now on, we won’t just be visiting planets, we’ll be staying,” says an announcer on one of the company’s promotional videos released Monday.

“In our pursuit to find life elsewhere in the universe the search for life on Mars begins on Earth.”

A lucky few will eventually qualify for eight years of training to acclimate them to a life without showers, coffee and the view of any vista other than the barren, red desert landscape, to say nothing of family and friends left back home. The organization seeks to have the first Mars One astronauts on Mars in 2023, with a second crew landing in 2025. Couples will not be allowed to travel together, Mars One co-founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp told CNN. Lansdorp also told VentureBeat that, while he would like to go, after consultations with the organization’s medical director, he realized he “might not be the perfect candidate.”

The organization claims it has received 10,000 prospective applicant messages so far, with those messages coming from more than 100 countries. Eventually, in the last phase of the application process, the public will be allowed to choose from a group of 24 to 40 trained applicants.

There are no requirements to apply in the first round, other than the application fee. But the organization announced, via a release, that it will eventually select individuals in “good physical and mental health” and who “show five key character traits: Resilience, Adaptability, Curiosity, Ability to trust others, and Creativity/Resourcefulness.” The mission promises a selectee the grandeur of being the Christopher Columbus or Neil Armstrong of one’s generation with a catch — Columbus and Armstrong got to return home.

The colonizing mission is expected to cost $6 billion. Lansdorp and his team anticipate raising the funds through merchandise sales and broadcast rights or advertising. The project is connected to a nonprofit foundation, as well as a for-profit media company, the Interplanetary Media Group (IMG).

But $6 billion is no small sum, to say nothing of the technological challenges. These very real hurdles make it doubtful that the reality as depicted in the glossy renderings will be within reach any time soon.

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By  |  06:01 PM ET, 04/22/2013

 
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