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Space cadets enlist for Mars

More than 200,000 people from 140 countries have applied to go to Mars and never return, says the group behind an ambitious venture to colonise the inhospitable red planet.

Bas Lansdorp, a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur, plans to establish a permanent base on Mars in a mission he hopes will take off in 2022 if he can find the necessary $US6 billion.

One in four of the 202,586 applicants for the one-way trip are Americans, said Mars One on Monday, the non-profit group which initiated its hunt for “would-be Mars settlers“ in April.

There are also hopefuls from India (10 per cent), China (six per cent) and Brazil (five per cent), among other countries, it said.

Michael Tamits, an 18-yearold Adelaide student, is one of the Australians who has put his hand up to go on the journey.

By 2015, Mars One expects put up to 10 four-member teams through intensive training, with the first of those teams reaching Mars in 2023 on a high-risk journey that would take seven months to complete.

If they survive the trip, the human Martians will have to deal with minus 55 degrees temperatures in a desert-like atmosphere that consists mainly of carbon dioxide.

They’ll also have to consent to being observed back on Earth full-time as stars of a reality TV show that would help cover expenses.

The project has the support of Gerard `t Hooft, the Dutch joint winner of the Nobel prize for physics in 1999.