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Trip to Mars lures applicants

By Cao Yin  (China Daily)

09:44, February 02, 2013

A project that includes a one-way trip to Mars has attracted at least 450 Chinese applicants who say they'll agree not to return to Earth if selected.

Mars One, a Dutch nonprofit organization, said on its website that it plans to take humans to Mars in 2023 to establish the foundation of a permanent settlement on the red planet.

Led by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, the private spaceflight project announced its plans in June 2012, which include sending a communication satellite and path-finder lander to Mars by 2016, and sending four astronauts to Mars every two years.

But the company did not disclose more information, such as where its carrier rocket will come from.

Even so, the project has attracted more than 37,000 applicants from all over the world who expressed their interest in e-mail applications, according to the company website. The project's astronaut recruitment has only one requirement - applicants must be 18 or older.

Wang Wenming, one of the Chinese applicants, is a geology engineer from Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan province. The 30-year-old man is now trying hard to improve his English-speaking skills.

"It would be so exciting to have such an experience. I decided to apply on the first day after the company posted the recruitment information online," he said.

"I'm crazy about outer space and am interested in Mars. That's why I have had my eye on it for a long time."

He told China Daily that he is not afraid of the no-return trip.

"I think the project is worthy to die for. I'm serious about this, or I wouldn't try so hard to improve my English," he added.

But he is not good at speaking English, and he is also concerned about his age.

In a letter that the company sent him, it said the selected crew will face eight years of training. If so, Ma will be nearly 50, "which is not suitable for going to Mars", he said.

"But the key to the project, in my opinion, is to stimulate more people's interest in Mars, especially among youngsters," he added.

However, a few of the applicants have had second thoughts about the project and backed off.

An 18-year-old student from Xiamen University, who gave only his surname, Chen, has begun to have doubts about the project and said he might drop out.

Chen said he did a lot of research after seeing the project information online, and he found that the developer is just a private company, a fact that may carry potential danger or a high amount of risk.

"I also talked with my parents and they won't let me go to Mars, telling me such a project needs further confirmation by credible institutions," he said. "I agreed with them. The idea indeed needs rethinking."

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