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About 78,000 people have applied to become Red Planet colonists with the nonprofit organization Mars One since its application process opened on April 22, officials announced today (May 7). Mars One aims to land four people on the Red Planet in 2023 as the vanguard of a permanent colony, with more astronauts arriving every two years thereafter.
"With 78,000 applications in two weeks, this is turning out to be the most desired job in history," Mars One CEO and co-founder Bas Lansdorp said in a statement. "These numbers put us right on track for our goal of half a million applicants."
Mars One estimates that landing four settlers on Mars in 2023 will cost about $6 billion. The Netherlands-based organization plans to pay most of the bills by staging a global reality-TV event, with cameras documenting all phases of the mission from astronaut selection to the colonists' first years on the Red Planet.