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Chinese In Search Of "Clean Air" Join Rush To Mars [VIDEO]

Apr 29, 2013 11:28 AM EDT
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This is what it's like to spend eight months on Mars

While China’s government may not be focused on the developing cross-national race to Mars, the phenomenon seems to have caught the attention of its people.

According to China Daily, more than 600 Chinese applications have been submitted to the Dutch aerospace project Mars One, which plans to send individuals to settle Mars by 2023.

Bas Lansdorp, co-founder of Mars One, said the firm chose Shanghai as the second stop for the application press conference after New York because, as he told China Daily, he believes many Chinese are interested in becoming astronauts.

Ma Qing is a 39-year-old bookseller whose interest was piqued by the idea.

“I think the chance to be part of the project is a cool way for me to change a dull daily life,” Ma told the news outlet. “Besides, the air on Mars must be cleaner and easier to breathe.”

Since the application selection program launched on April 22, Mars One has received hundreds of applications, a number Lansdorp expects to swell to 500,000.

The online application is the first of four selection rounds to take place by Aug. 31, and while individuals are allowed to vote on their favorite submission videos, the decision of who advances into round two remains in the hands of the firm, according to a press release issued by the company.

And while a small application fee is required, the firm has adjusted the amount based on every nation’s GDP: those living in developing nations are asked to pay just $5, compared to the U.S. application fee of $38 and the Qatar fee of $73.

“Gone are the days when bravery and the number of hours flying a supersonic jet were the top criteria,” Norbert Kraft, Mars One’s chief medical director and former NASA senior researcher, stated in the release. “For this mission of permanent settlement we are more concerned with how well each astronaut lives and works with others and their ability to deal with a lifetime of challenges.”

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