TORONTO—An ambitious project that aims to put boots on Mars in 10 years may have fallen short of the expected number of Martian wannabes, but there is no shortage of Canadians willing to live on the red planet—and die there.
With the Aug. 31 deadline almost here, nearly 7,000 Canucks have applied to join Mars One—a $6-billion project that plans to establish a permanent human colony on Mars by 2023.
They are among more than 165,000 applicants from 140 countries who have paid an application fee up to $75, depending on the country, in hopes of being selected for the one-way trip.
Lex Marion, of Vancouver, is one of them.
“My entire life I have always wanted to be a part of something that really makes a huge difference,” the 26-year-old said in an interview.
“Having my life mean something, for me, is just so important and this is the ultimate expression of that.”
Mars One—the brainchild of Dutch entrepreneur Bas Landorp—says the first four settlers would be followed by more groups, every two years.
If the project ever makes it off planet Earth—and many are skeptical it will—there would be many risks.
Organizers say there could be an accident during launch, vital components could malfunction during the journey, a number of issues might arise when entering the Mars atmosphere and there could be problems during landing.
Connor Martz, 19, thought about the risks, but they did not stop him from applying to join what some have called a suicide mission.
“That part scares me, obviously, never being able to come back or see my family and dying there,” he said from his home in Waterloo, Ont.
“I think the good outweighs the bad in this case because you have the opportunity to advance mankind in its exploration and colonization of other planets.”
For now, Connor is getting ready to start first year of university in September to study physics. He said he’s been hitting the gym to build up body mass, which could prove vital on a long space voyage.
“Every kid wants to be an astronaut at some point and I guess that is where I started,” he said.
The application videos, some of which are posted on the Mars One website, range from the wildly absurd to the surprisingly sincere.
One Canadian applicant—identified only as Madison, 27—posted a video talking about what drew her to the program.
“A year ago my younger sister died and with that of course came a bunch of questions about why are we here? What is the meaning of all this and what is the purpose in life?” said Madison.
“When I read about this Mars One program I thought: ‘Wow, here is my chance to find some sort of closure or purpose or meaning in space,’ so I couldn’t not apply.”
Kenneth Flack, 53, from Pointe-Fortune, Que., said he wanted to join the mission because he’s convinced the Earth “will eventually be destroyed and consumed by the sun.”
Mars One had hoped to attract up to a million people from around the world when it first launched the application process in April. After the Aug. 31 deadline, the group will decide who goes on to the next round of the selection process.