Mars One, a project vying to create the first human colony on Mars, has received more than 200,000 applications for the one-way trip to the red planet.

It’s an extremely ambitious and costly venture (estimated at $6 billion for the first four-person mission) and if all goes according to plan, the first launch will come in September 2022, with a landing in April 2023.

According to the Mars One organizers, volunteers from 140 countries applied — including 47,654 from the U.S. and 8,497 from Britain.

Mars One illustration

"From this applicant pool, the Mars One Selection Committee will select prospective Martian settlers in three additional rounds spread across two years," a press release states. "By 2015, six-10 teams of four individuals will be selected for seven years of full-time training. In 2023, one of these teams will become the first humans ever to land on Mars and live there for the rest of their lives."

In order to fund the costly mission, which NASA officials believe is not yet feasible, Mars One will turn the entire decade-long venture into a media event, with everything from the training to the spaceflight itself as a sort of reality television event.

"The audience will remain engaged during the training of the elected candidates and will participate in their lives as they travel to and land on Mars through live telecasts and bi-directional communication," Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp told "The astronauts, who are granted this incredible opportunity by the audience vote, will remain interactive with their supporters on Earth, sharing as much as possible what it is like to live on Mars.

illustration of Mars One rocket

One the pioneer team is ready, they will blast off on a Falcon 9 Heavy built by SpaceX. An additional group of four colonists will arrive on the planet every two years. By 2033, there may be as many as 20 settlers living on Mars.

"I hope that the international approach of Mars One will bring the people of this planet a little closer together at a time when there is so much conflict and suffering," Lansdorp said. "The Mars One mission will demonstrate how a diverse team of people from various backgrounds and countries can train for and then go on a challenging mission together. This endeavor will increase awareness of both cultural differences and similarities and with that, respect for who we are."

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Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

200,000 apply for one-way mission to Mars
Organizers will now select 10 four-member teams for intensive training, with one of those teams proceeding to Mars in 2023.