Elon Musk, founder of the private rocket company SpaceX and a great advocate of Mars exploration, also demurred. He said that a one-way trip is inconsistent with his idea of building a fleet of spaceships that would one day take not a handful but thousands of people to colonize Mars.
But as a thought experiment and a challenge to how human exploration of space is now conducted, the proposal has found some traction. Not necessarily much financial support, but some strong feelings among the public.
The initial volunteers are a broad range of people — old and young, male and female, military and civilians.
Jeff Lane, for instance, is 45 and a police officer in Youngstown, Ohio. He said that his kids would be grown by the time any Mars mission would be ready and that the mission would need some kind of law enforcer on the flight.
“Growing up, I watched the moon shots and shuttle missions and would have loved to have been a part of it. Never came to be, so I thought I would volunteer. Strange for some people to think that way but why not? I’m gonna die, right? So why not die doing something really cool?” he said.