A lot of people are game for a one-way ticket to Mars — more than 100,000 of them

Mars One, the Dutch nonprofit that’s offering one-way tickets to the red planet, appears to have hit a milestone. Back in April, when the project first began accepting applications from the general public, we asked whether anyone would be willing to take them up on the offer. Apparently, more than 100,000 people would. That’s right, more than 100,000 people have applied to take a one-way trip to Mars.

Before you dismiss this as little more than people entering names on a Web form, consider that applications cost roughly $38. The organization plans to choose a group of 40 from the 100,000 -plus pool and then winnow that down to a team of four who would leave Earth in 2022 and arrive on Mars in 2023.

But the mission has significant technological hurdles. As The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach wrote in May of the potential for NASA’s manned Mars mission: “humans-to-Mars is aspirational, with the tough logistical and political issues yet to be resolved.” And that’s an assessment of the agency that sent the first human beings to land on moon.

That said, the Mars One mission, which is expected to cost roughly $6 billion and include a reality show-type live broadcast as part of its revenue model, has more than 20 “contributors” and a list of “potential supplier[s],” including Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Note the use of the word “potential.”

The mission is, as space-travel efforts go, wildly ambitious. Then again, 100,000 people interested enough to at least pay a small free for even a remote chance at becoming the first human being on Mars minus a return ticket is also notable. At the very least, it is a testament to how powerful the dream of space travel is for this planet’s human inhabitants.

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Emi Kolawole · August 9, 2013