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We Asked Mars One Applicants Why They Want to Leave This Planet Forever

Naturally, one wants to take Natalie Portman with him.

by Zach Sokol
Aug 14 2013, 2:32pm

Image via the Mars One site

Some offers are too good to be true. For the aspiring space cadet, Bas Lansdorp has proposed an opportunity to change the lives of cosmically inclined daydreamers across the globe that would make them immortal in the eyes of history. For $38—less if you're not American, as the price is pegged to GDP—you can apply to the Mars One space travel program in the hopes of receiving a one-way ticket to Mars. The first flight is planned to launch in September, 2022. 

The  ambitious project plans to send a group of multinational individuals to the red planet to colonize and live there for the rest of their lives. To raise the needed $6 billion dollars for the trip, Lansdorp plans on turning the entire trip, from training to launch-off, into a reality TV program funded by the media and advertisers, as Motherboard detailed awhile back.

Even with an extremely willing suspension of disbelief, there are too many questions to ask about the credibility of Lansdorp and the legitimacy of this project. Still, over 100,000 people worldwide have paid the application fee and said a wish while clicking send, including over 30,000 Americans. 

The application process consists of starry-eyed denizens sending in general information, a motivational letter, resume and one minute video that answers why they should be one of the first people to colonize Mars. The application videos are all viewable online, and there is a rating system that possibly decides who will be sent to Mars, not unlike a MTV reality show casting. 

I've gone digging through the applicants, and there's a range of hopefuls from the earnestly naive to the utterly delusional. One applicant wonders if there will be "dance parties all night long," while another dons a gold shirt and plastic headpiece and laments that although he does not have a sense of humor, he is still ready for this trip.

Some applicants are so over-the-top insane that it appears to be trolling, like the tinfoil hat-wearing Australian guy who claims to be "hiding from the Zetans." The application fee and general lack of views suggest that maybe this dude is dead serious: going to Mars is his best option in life. 

A consistent theme throughout is how serious everyone is about this project. If offered the opportunity to leave their earthly belongings and travel to space forever, these people are ready to pack their bags and leave now. To find out why, I reached out to talk to a few of the applicants and have share what's motivating them to head to Mars. (While some of their emailed responses have been edited for length, I haven't edited them for style.)

Willard Sollano Daniac, age 36, is currently the most popular applicant in the program with 11.8 million "hearts."

Country of Origin: Philippines

Current Occupation: High Voltage Inspector of Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation under the Network and Distribution Electrical Division

Why do you think your application is so popular on the Mars One site?

Willard: I use Facebook, DeviantArt, Orkut, Ning, Yahoo, and some more social networking sites every time I got my vacant time especially when I got home. And also with the help of my families and friends who fully support my candidacy to achieve the goal I ever dreamed in life.

What will you do once setting foot on Mars? What exactly do you want to do in space? 

My answer is: A) To fix the Life Support System as per the mission designed. B) To introduce my own invention of Infinite Energy 'Producing Infinite Electricity' without the help of any fuel, water, solar or any sort of fuel known by man, to support the Power Demand of all people who will live on this planet forever.

Are you confident that the Mars One program will complete its mission by 2023? What if there aren't enough backers financially? Will you regret paying the application fee?

Sir, I am very much confident that this Mars One program will successfully completed its mission by 2023. However, I will continue to pay the application fees to support this mission continually. 

Sybelle Silverphoenix, age 30

Country of Origin: United States

Current Occupation: Actress, PC Technician

How will your current occupation inform or help you on this trip? 

Sybelle: In terms of how my acting experience helps with this process, I'd say that I am already used to being in front of cameras and dealing with media, so I am not made uncomfortable by the television aspect of the process. I have been in communication with some other applicants, and some of them are finding the attention a little overwhelming. All the people I've met so far are very very intelligent and have lots to offer, but that doesn't necessarily make it easy to show that when being bombarded by the press, lol.

What will you be leaving behind on Earth if picked? 

Oh, wow, I would be leaving behind a LOT. A lot of people, people I've grown to love and care about. Family, including my daughter, whom I will miss very much. She'll be 18 by the time the first mission leaves, plus the rest of our family is very supportive of her, so I know she'll be fine. Her dad is 100% behind her always, I know she's in good hands. Oh, and I am quite sure I'd be leaving behind my career in entertainment, lol.

Rodrigo Cespedes Daza, age 26

Country of Origin: Bolivia

Current Occupation: IT and software development

Why do you want to go to Mars despite the obvious reasons?

Rodrigo: As a young kid, everything used to scare me. Darkness, loneliness, noise, clowns, monsters in the closet… it was all scary to me. See, when you are a fearful person, the stability of your context, everything that surrounds you, is instrumental in making you feel safe. But then my world was completely shifted as I moved from Bolivia to the States at the very ripe age of six. I was living in a world whose webs were torn from the comforts that come with everything that relates to the concept of "home"; culture, language, neighborhood, friends etc. I was forced into a free fall as the webs no longer had a familiar place to anchor.

As I fell off the safety of everything constant in my life, something amazing happened; I adapted. Torn from any particular concept of home, I found a silent comfort in the quietness of the night, the comfort of my mind and the detachment from inherited concepts such as bed bugs or crazy entertainers. I formed links with friends that were strong but flexible, as I grew accustomed to the fact that reality occurs now and that their importance is today. I embarked on trips with family, with friends and also on occasions alone, always finding something else in this world that helped me grow. I learned to respect nature in all environments from cities to woods. In short, I learned to fear only thoughts restraining me from seeing something new. So, in response to your first question, I would like to live in Mars for many reasons deeply aligned to who I am. Space inspires me to dream. I dream of the cosmos and dream of being part of this new world; I am akin to a traveler who seeks to find and create something new.

Do you believe the Mars Program will be a success by 2022? Do you think a nongovernment group will get the proper funding in time?

Government aided space projects always have goals that are relative to the present time and exist under constantly changing premises. A private company on the other hand, has a mission statement that is clear, concise and therefore exists with the sole purpose of fulfilling that goal. I certainly believe that private efforts will have an ever more important role in getting people to space and beyond as they have a more defined everlasting goal.

Furthermore, A project is not started under pessimistic ideals, especially when the project is huge. Mars-One is taking the first steps in making a multi-billion dollar program that will only succeed if it manages to capture the imagination of hundreds of millions of people around the world. I believe it can succeed, and I am willing to stake myself and my talents in order to help make it happen. For a definitive answer to the question, I can only state that it's still early days, and we really can't speculate as to how the program will evolve.

If you could bring any famous individual outside of academia on this trip with you, who would it be and why? 

Well, I've always been a huge fan of Natalie Portman; I think her beauty is only surpassed by her amazing skill to portray her characters. This capability of embodying another person is something that is amazing to me and indicative of a genius few people have. I can't imagine getting bored learning from a person like Natalie Portman. Although, I must admit, she probably wouldn't be very excited about going to Mars; a little cramped for such a creative spirit.

Daniel Barton, age 22

Country of Origin: United States

Current Occupation: Hospital Corpsman in the Navy

If accepted into the program, what will you leave behind on Earth?

Daniel: I will be leaving behind my friends and family here on Earth. I love and care for them very much but they all understand that I have wanted something like this all my life. They will all support me until the end. Also I will miss toaster strudels quite a lot.

What will you do once you reach the planet? What exactly do you want to complete once on Mars?

Simple. My first goal is to help my fellow colonists survive. Once we have finally gotten everything worked out and settled on the planet comfortably as possible I hope to climb Olympus Mons, the tallest mountain in the solar system.

Are you confident that the Mars One program will complete its mission by 2023? What if there aren't enough backers financially? Will you regret paying the application fee?

I think this mission will make it. There are many ways to get financial backers. There is alway advertising by putting logos on uniforms or our space suits. It's going to be a reality show as well so many companies would love to put in for advertising. If it doesn't happen I won't regret the $30 I paid for my application. It was worth every penny.

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