Mars trip offer attracts hundreds of thousands

An artist's impression of the Mars One colony. Picture: Contributed
An artist's impression of the Mars One colony. Picture: Contributed
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MORE than 200,000 aspiring astronauts have signed up to go where no man has gone before by applying for a one-way ticket to Mars.

From students and taxi drivers through to decorators and primary school teachers, a total of 202,586 people have pledged to give up their life on Earth in the hope of establishing the first human colony on the red planet.

With applicants from every corner of the world, the would-be Martians include a small but passionate band of Scots who are seeking to convince organisers that they would be best suited to the intrepid mission.

The Dutch non-profit body behind the mission hopes to send off the first four astronauts on a seven-month trip to Mars by 2022.

Once there, they will form a permanent settlement to conduct scientific experiments and help understand the origins of the solar system.

The prospect of a return, however, is distant. The technology to build a vehicle that could take off from Mars would only add to the mission’s £4 billion bill.

Organisers hope to recoup the vast outlay by creating a huge media event, which will redefine the medium of reality television courtesy of cameras charting their every move.

They are now poring over videos submitted by applicants, in which they state why they should be picked for a space.

Of the hundreds of thousands from more than 140 countries who have applied so far, the majority – 47,654 – hail from the United States, with a further 8,497 from Britain.

While no further UK breakdown is available, several Scots have made their pitch online.

In one video, Chris McKenna, a Scot working in China as a teacher, said: “I think going to Mars would be a fantastic opportunity. It’s a chance for humanity to advance itself, it’s a chance to be part of something big, something different.”

Mr McKenna, who said he had a “fairly good sense of humour,” added: “Why do I think I’m perfect for this mission? I’m quite a well-rounded person, I’m a programmer, a teacher and a writer. I’m also versatile and good at learning new things quickly.”

The privately-financed spaceflight project is led by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, who said that he and a team of experts were looking for people who could bond with others.

“We want individuals who fit into teams. They must be healthy, smart enough to learn new skills and with a character and mind-set that can function in a small group,” he said.

Paul Römer, the co-creator of Big Brother and ambassador of the project, said the potential was vast. “Reality meets talent show with no ending and the whole world watching. Now there’s a good pitch.”

Shortlisted applicants will have to pass three more rounds before the final decision. Twenty-four individuals will be selected to become Mars One astronauts, and the four chosen to become the first human settlers on Mars will land on the planet by 2023.