A screen shot of the introduction video for the Mars One Project. (Internet photo)
More than 450 people in China signed up for a project to send four people to Mars in 2023 to build a human settlement on the planet. Four applicants said in interviews that they are seeking challenges to enrich their lives.
The project is being hosted by Mars One Foundation, a Netherland-based non-profit organization that aims to send four astronauts to the planet to build a community and conduct scientific experiments. It will be a one-way trip for the astronauts.
The epic task, from the launch of their space shuttle to the landing, will be televised. More than 30,000 people worldwide have signed up for the mission and around 450 of them are from China.
Four of the people that volunteered for the project told Beijing Youth Daily that their lives will be changed by it even though they do not fully understood the details and technology involved.
Ma Qiang, a man who just married from Sichuan province, said he wanted to do something important in his life time after experiencing the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that caused almost 70,000 deaths. Even if he fails, he hopes his action would inspire others.
Ma said he enjoyed freedom and life and his present lifestyle —running a farm and resort — was too lonely. He claims to be well-traveled, having spent half a year in southern Europe to learn a language, according to Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.
The Mars One mission would be the perfect opportunity for him to do something different. He would also do it out of patriotism, saying that if people from other countries go, someone in China should go as well. If no one in the country is willing, then he might have a chance. He knows the mission could cost him his life but it would be worth it for developing a new planet.
Despite his ambition, the man speaks very little English and has to rely on translation software to communicate with the mission's staff. He also knew very little about the technology involved and about the Mars One foundation.
Xiao Chen, an 18-year-old college student from Xiamen, learned about the project through their website. He has developed an interest in aviation since he was young and dreamed about being an astronaut but failed to pass the national examinations that would allow him to pursue the field. He has been trying to persuade his parents to join the project after they learned it would be a one-way trip.
Geological engineer Wang Wenming from Xiamen said he has been paying close attention to the project since it was posted online. The 30-year-old man is single and has many siblings but his family supports his application. He feels that his chance, however, are small considering his age and limited English, according to Ming Pao.
Chen Qingyun, who just graduated with an undergraduate degree in hydraulic engineering, said he found out about the project through Chinese media. He works at an office job but he wanted to be a sailor and seek adventure. The project would help him make his wish come true.