When Mars One announced that they were opening up applications for permanent residency in their proposed permanent colony, they expected to generate some interest. After all, they're shooting for a half million applicants. What they did not expect, according to Mars One co-founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp, was a rush of over 78,000 applications in just two weeks.
Lansdorp told Business Insider that his organization had expected "a slow start," that would eventually build toward their 500,000 applicant goal by the August 31st deadline. Instead they got nearly a sixth of their goal in a fraction of the expected time. According to Lansdorp, many applicants say that they have been following the project since before the application process began.
According to information released by Mars One on Tuesday, applicants come from more than 120 countries, and have a variety of backgrounds. The countries contributing the most applicants are, as you might expect, the United States with 17,324, China with 10,241, and the United Kingdom with 3,581.
The application deadline is August 31st. Once applications are closed, Mars One will begin the process of selecting the best candidates. While you might think that scientists and engineers would be the most desirable, Lansdorp says that the program isn't that picky about applicants' backgrounds. According to Dr. Norbert Kraft, the program's chief medical officer, the key qualities they look for in applicants are commitment, creativity, and resiliency.
The selection process will consist of four rounds and will seek to identify the 28-40 most qualified candidates. Those candidates will then undergo seven years of training before the final team will be chosen to go to Mars.
The initial Mars One expedition will be a four-person mission designed to establish a foothold on Mars. This team will begin laying the groundwork for a full permanent settlement on Mars.
Many of the Mars One applicants have submitted videos discussing their qualifications and their motivations for applying. You can check out some of the videos and even apply yourself (if leaving the planet forever is your thing) at applicants.mars-one.com.