Mars One Settlement
Mars One received more than 200,000 applications over the course of five months. Mars One/Bryan Versteeg

2023 is still a long way away, but the Mars One mission just took one step closer to fruition. As of the application deadline a week ago, more than 200,000 people from 140 different countries have applied to be among the first colonists on the red planet.

Over the course of five months, hundreds of thousands of applicants applied to be a part of the Mars One mission. Mars One is a not-for-profit foundation that aims to create a permanent settlement on Mars by 2023. The application process is just the beginning: Once the Mars One Selection Committee chooses candidates from this applicant pool, those selected will have to pass three more rounds before the final selection.

The second round will include an interview with Mars One committee members, and candidates advancing to the third round will compete against one another. The third round will group candidates by regions, approximately 20 to 40 candidates per region, and include a series of challenges to prepare them for the potential mission. The challenges will be broadcast on television and the Internet, notes Mars One, and regional audiences will get to choose one winner while the committee chooses the remaining candidates that advance to the fourth round.

The fourth, and final, round will be an international competition that prepares groups of candidates for life on Mars. According to Mars One, “The groups will be expected to demonstrate their ability to live in harsh living conditions and work together under difficult circumstances. The groups will receive their first short-term training in a copy of the Mars outpost.” At the end of the selection process, 24 individuals will be selected to become Mars One astronauts, and the four astronauts selected to become the first human settlers on Mars will land on the planet by 2023.

Mars One will notify applicants selected for the second round by the end of 2013, with interviews scheduled for early 2014. Mars One plans to open up additional astronaut-recruitment programs in the future.

As for the applicants who wanted the one-way ticket to Mars, the majority came from the United States. Of the 202,586 applications received by Mars One, 47,654 came from the U.S. India had the second-highest number of applicants with 20,747, followed by China (13,176), Brazil (10,289) and Great Britain (8,497).