In spite of the fact that they aren't even ready to start considering candidates yet, many people have applied to be the passengers on Dennis Tito's quick-run-to-Mars mission.
The goal of the mission is to inspire the public — and Congress — to recommit to long-distance space travel, Tito said at the National Space Symposium.
To prove that humans can explore deep space, Tito and his team are planning a stripped-down, austere mission: The spacecraft will pass within 100 miles (161 km) of Mars' surface, but won't enter orbit or touchdown, because that would require additional propulsion systems.
"It's like a boomerang," Tito said. "You throw it out there and it comes right back in 501 days."
(I previously noted how this could be privately financed, big-time).
It's interesting that so many people are willing to take a ride on what is literally a long shot. But heck, if I didn't have a family, I'd probably put in an application too.