There appears to be no shortage of wannabe planetary colonists willing to live—and possibly die on Mars.

Mars One—a controversial project that aims to send humans on a one-way trip to the Red Planet by 2023—has garnered interest from 202,586 folks from more than 140 countries who sent in video applications.

The majority of applicants (47,654) for this one-way trip to Mars come from the United States, with India (20,747) and China (13,176) coming in second and third place.

Now that the first of a four-round selection process ended on August 31, a Mars One committee will take the next few months to whittle down the number of applicants (yet-to-be-determined) who will be notified by the end of this year.

The plan eventually is to have the candidates undergo mental and physical challenges. Teams from different regions will compete against each other until only  24 to 40 candidates with the “right stuff” are left standing in 2015.

These remaining Mars colony candidates will then embark on a seven-year training odyssey that, in partnership with spaceship builder SpaceX, will see the first team of four Mars “settlers” blast off in 2023.

With the initial mission costing $6 billion, the plan is to have private financial backing, including a television reality show to help raise the funds for the maiden voyage in a decade’s time—and subsequent missions slated to follow every two years after that.

The long-term vision is to establish a thriving, permanent human colony on the Red Planet with new missions running through the middle of this century.

source: National Geographic News