Get set for liftoff! More than 1,000 people have been selected in the first round of a competition to win the trip of a lifetime: a one-way ticket to Mars.
A private planned space project called Mars One has whittled the 200,000 applicants who want to spend the rest of their lives on the Red Planet to 1,058, according to Mashable.
The company, headed by Dutch businessman Bas Lansdorp, says it will send up its first space mission with a crew of six aboard by 2023 and will continue to add more astronauts every year after that.
Lansdorp says the accommodations on the oxygen-free, dustbowl-like planet will be top-of-the-line, Mars-style, including livable dwellings, greenhouses, rovers, and, of course, plenty of air to breathe.
Although it all sounds like pie-in-the-sky stuff, the entrepreneur plans to pay for the phenomenal cost of the project, with the first flight alone costing $6 billion, by selling the world's greatest TV reality show to Earthlings.
Cameras will follow the "Martians" day and night, and Lansdorp says advertisers will be willing to shell out a fortune in the hope that millions will be watching history unfold, just as they did when Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon in 1969.
Lansdorp even compared his pet project to the summer Olympics, saying, "Four billion dollars for four weeks, just because the world is watching."
The 1,058 would-be space explorers consist of 586 men and 472 women. They are from all over the world, with the United States having the most participants at 297, while Canada follows with 75, India with 62, and Russia, 52.
The majority of the applicants are under 36 and well educated, with 347 holding bachelor's degrees, while 159 have a master's and 29 have an M.D.
The candidates who make the final round of the competition will be selected during a reality game show elimination process, in which up to 40 contestants per country will be competing with each other for one slot from that nation.
The winners will then be able to start packing, hoping to make one small step for man but one giant leap for mankind.
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