And then there are those of us who are well aware of the risks, and have no illusions about how "exciting" it would be. And have signed up anyway.
I'm someone with close friends, good family, and active social life, a couple of different fulfilling hobbies, and a steady career that I'm 15 years into and 20 years from retirement from.
And I signed up.
I began my application by listing a myriad different ways the mission could fail, from exploding on launch, to losing air on the way there, to crashing into the planet, to starving to death on the surface, to the most likely: the project running out of money before ever leaving the ground. These are not 200,000 delusional people. These are not 200,000 people who think they're signing up for a quick trip on the Millennium Falcon Many, if not most, of these people know what they're getting into, as much as it can be known at this point. And we've signed up, to go to Mars.
The project will probably fail. Simply because most ambitious projects fail.But some succeed. The probability of failure is not a reason not to be ambitious.
But why go? I can't speak for everyone who signed up. But for myself, the answer is simple. We have to go. We have to expand beyond our planet. Here's somebody trying to do something about it. And I can't pass up the opportunity to be part of it. 47 years ago today the words "To boldly go where no man has gone before" were first uttered in public. And no, you don't need to point out that the show was fiction. But the words meant something.
There are always people willing to go new places. And people willing to go with them.
Columbus wasn't alone on his ship to America. Shackleton had to turn down almost 5000 volunteers for his South Pole expedition. Going to Mars is an even bigger deal. I'm not surprised they got 200,000 applicants. And it's OK that you can't imagine wanting to go. I can't imagine *not* wanting to go.
And yeah, the project will likely fail. But even if it does, something will be learned. Something new will be gained. And eventually, someone will use those lessons and succeed. And I'd be glad to be part of one step of that process. That's why I sent in my application.