One-Way Mars Colony Project Draws 200,000 Volunteers

Mars One Colony
Artist's concept of Mars One astronauts on the Red Planet. (Image credit: Mars One / Bryan Versteeg)

A group that's looking for the first Red Planet colonists received applications from more than 200,000 prospective astronauts vying for a spot on a one-way trip to Mars.

The non-profit Mars One Foundation hopes to send teams of four spaceflyers on one-way Mars colony missions starting in 2023. Its initial 19-week application window closed on Aug. 31, with a final tally of 202,586 volunteers.

The applicant pool is quite diverse with more than 140 countries represented, Mars One said in a statement. Nearly a quarter of the aspiring Mars colonists are from the United States. Ten percent of the applicants are Indians, the second largest group in the pool. Exclusive T-shirt. Available to Populate Mars. Buy Now (Image credit: Store)

Mars One, based in the Netherlands, will face some major technical and funding challenges in the years ahead. It has not yet picked a spacecraft or rocket for the long voyage. The project also estimated it will cost about $6 billion to send its first crew to the Red Planet and $4 billion for each of the following missions.

The group started raising money through its application fees, which ranged from $5 to $75 depending on the applicant's country of origin. Mars One also hopes it will be able to raise funds with a reality TV show tracking the astronaut selection process and training.

Martian hopefuls who missed the deadline or were too young to apply this time around will have future chances to be considered. Mars One says it will start regular recruitment programs as the search for future Red Planet crews continues.

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Megan Gannon Contributing Writer

Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity on a Zero Gravity Corp. to follow students sparking weightless fires for science. Follow her on Twitter for her latest project.