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A Staggering 202,586 People Have Applied To Die On Mars

Illustration for article titled A Staggering 202,586 People Have Applied To Die On Mars

Say, would you like to die alone on an uninhabitable planet millions of miles from home away from everyone you have ever known and loved? If your answer was "Heck yeah I do," you may be one of the more than 200,000 people who have applied to die on Mars.

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You may recall that a Dutch entrepreneur is launching Mars One, a company that seeks to put astronauts on Mars by 2023 and is currently taking applications for spots on the team. Our pals at Gawker reported in May that some 78,000 people had applied for the trip, which does not include a return flight.

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National Geographic reports now that applications have rocketed (sorry) all the way up to 202,586 people from 140 countries, predominantly the U.S., China and India. That's a lot of people who want to die on another planet.

Here's what happens next:

Now that the first of a four-round selection process ended on August 31, a Mars One committee will take the next few months to whittle down the number of applicants (yet-to-be-determined) who will be notified by the end of this year.

The plan eventually is to have the candidates undergo mental and physical challenges. Teams from different regions will compete against each other until only 24 to 40 candidates with the “right stuff” are left standing in 2015.

The long-term vision is to establish a thriving, permanent human colony on the Red Planet with new missions running through the middle of this century.

So who's going to send them up by 2023? Right now, the plan is for SpaceX to do it. Thanks for murdering everyone for science, Elon!

Photo credit NASA

Hat tip to Muffin!

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DISCUSSION

geistkoenig
Patrick Frawley

I think we have to understand this through a slightly different perspective.

Yes, these people are signing up for a one-way trip. They're also volunteering to start something not dissimilar to the first European colonies in what was once commonly called the New World.

Mars is the next New World. This is the next step in a process that will eventually take us beyond the constraints of this increasingly overtaxed and damaged planet. It is a necessary evolution of our current situation.

It's not about dying on a faraway planet; it's about living on one, and in doing so making it possible for others to follow and then to go beyond.

This is the kind of pioneering spirit that so many complain has been lost. This is the kind of push for greater things - things beyond the personal - that was such a strain of the American, and even human, spirit for so long. And which can be found again.

The Mars mission idea was huge for me as a kid. It shouldn't just be a sixth-grader's daydream, pushed aside in a world where the only thing that matters is gathering personal wealth.

We talk about ideals here. We talk about a flagrant disregard for safe norms and bourgeois conceits, about a push for an ineffable something that is grander and purer and mightier than normalcy. That's what the Mars thing is, writ larger than any car ever made.

Maybe one of my future students will go someday. I'll be incredibly proud to have helped her or him, but more just thrilled that it's happening.

It needs to.