Mars One—the private space project that plans to be the first to send humans to Mars and leave them there—officially opened its virtual doors to would-be Mars residents, per a press release and press conference Monday. Today is the first day anyone who has ever thought it might be neat to put on a helmet and see Earth from outside its atmosphere can submit an application to be considered for the first permanent human colony on Mars. The Mars One foundation reports it has received 10,000 messages of interest about the program prior to this point. We'll soon see how many of those translate to applications.
The Mars One project was started by Bas Lansdorp, a Dutch entrepreneur, with the goal of setting up a small human-inhabited outpost on Mars. The tentative schedule has supplies landing on the red planet in 2016 and the settlers in 2023.
Lansdorp has asserted many times that all of the technology necessary to accomplish the mission already exists. It's just a matter of coordinating a lot of sophisticated hardware, billions of dollars, cooperation between a few hundred people and companies. (Oh, and the whole trust thing from a few people who will leave Earth and never come back.)
Lansdorp in the past has brushed off many practical questions regarding the mission, and he continued to do so at the press conference. He and his team reiterated that the necessary technology has been developed, and Mars One will do none of the hardware building or planning itself.