Chinese join rush to live in Mars, 600 apply for Dutch project

Over 600 Chinese have applied to join an ambitious Dutch aerospace project that plans to send humans on a one-way trip to Mars for permanent settlement.

The Dutch project, while triggering enthusiasm to explore outer space, is also under fire with the trip being viewed by some as a suicide mission, with applicants being shipped to a planet that is uninhabitable by humans.

The project, Mars One, is being launched by a Dutch non-profit organization, and is scheduled to take four humans to the Red Planet in 2023.

In the first three days after it was launched this week, over 20,000 people from all over the world submitted their applications online, with more than 600 coming from China, state-run China Daily reported.

Bas Lansdorp, co-founder of Mars One told the media in Shanghai that he is confident of turning the dream into reality, and plans to attract more than five lakh applicants.

The Chinese enthusiasm to travel to Mars is building up as China, which has a well funded space programme focussing on Moon missions and building a space station is planning a three-phase Mars space missions to collect samples from the Red Planet by 2030.

The three stages are remote sensing, soft-landing, exploration and return after collecting automatic sampling, according to Ouyang Ziyuan, China's Chief scientist for Lunar missions.

But India may steal the march as Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is bracing to launch its first Mars mission in November to become the first Asian country to accomplish it.

NASA has already landed a rover on Mars remaining well ahead of other space programmes of the world. India's Mars Orbiter Mission is expected to be launched in mid-October this year, will carry five experimental payloads with a total weight of 14.49 kg.

Lansdorp said that when about 40 candidates have been fully trained, the final decision on choosing the first settlers will be made by a TV audience vote.

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