Mars One, a non-profit organization that plans to send humans on a one-way trip to establish a permanent settlement on Mars in 2023, began accepting online applications Monday.
"We are very excited about launching the selection program," said Bas Landorp, co-founder and CEO of the Netherlands-based group, in a statement announcing the start of the selection process. "This is an international mission and it is very important for the project that anyone anywhere can ask themselves: Do I want this? Am I ready for this? If the answer is yes then we want to hear from you."
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The program is looking for applicants 18 and older "who are both mature and interesting," but there is no requirement for any particular academic or professional background, as astronauts will spend seven years learning all the skills they need, said a Mars One news release.
Norbert Kraft, Mars One's chief medical officer, said because the mission involves a permanent settlement, the organization is more concerned with "how well each astronaut lives and works with others and their ability to deal with a lifetime of challenges" than whether they have traditional astronaut qualities such as bravery or experience piloting a supersonic jet.
The first round of applications will be open until Aug. 31, 2013. In order to apply, prospective astronauts must:
- Pay a registration fee that depends on the per capita GDP of their home country. For Canada, the fee is $33 US.
- Provide some general information about themselves.
- Write a letter about why they are applying.
- Submit a one-minute video answering some standard questions and explaining why he or she should be among the first humans to set foot on Mars.
As of Tuesday at noon, dozens of videos were already viewable online, including at least one from Canada.
Mars One "experts" will decide which applications will pass on to Round 2, when candidates will have to pass a health evaluation and an interview.
Rounds 3 and 4 will be reality-type shows broadcast on TV and the internet.
In Round 3, 20 to 40 candidates from each country will participate in "challenges" to demonstrate their suitability for the mission and the audience will choose a winner. Mars One will decide who else proceeds to the next round.
In Round 4, candidates will be split into international groups and will begin their training in a mock Mars outpost. Depending on their performance, some will be removed from the program individually or in groups until six groups of four remain.
Mars One estimates that it will cost $6 billion US to put the first four people on Mars. It plans to raise the money through broadcasting rights and sponsorships.