3 Indians closer to one-way Mars mission

Out of the 100, only four will make the final flight, if and when that happens


he next selection rounds will focus on forming teams that can endure all the hardships of a permanent settlement on Mars.  Photo: NASA
he next selection rounds will focus on forming teams that can endure all the hardships of a permanent settlement on Mars. Photo: NASA

Mumbai: Three Indians have made it to a short list of 100 from an initial pool of more than 200,000 candidates looking for a one-way trip to Mars. Fifty men and fifty women who successfully passed the second round have been selected to proceed to the next round of the Mars One Astronaut Selection Process.

Out of the 100, only four will make the final flight, if and when that happens.

The three include Taranjeet Singh Bhatia, 29, pursuing a doctorate in computer science in Florida, Ritika Singh, 29, an adventure sports lover who lives in Dubai and sci-fi loving Shraddha Prasad, 19, from Palakkad, Kerala. The promotional video for Mars One third phase of selection says ‘who has what it takes to colonize Mars never to return’.

While Bhatia says that as a child he used to gaze at the sky wanting aliens to abduct and take him to space, Prasad wants to pursue a career in space sciences. Going to Mars is Singh’s childhood dream.

Mars One is a Netherlands-based not-for-profit foundation which aims to send four humans to Mars in a spaceship in 2024 who will reach the red planet in 2025. An initial unmanned lander will be sent to Mars in 2018 with payloads including soil extractor and thin film solar demonstrator.

“The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, co-founder and chief executive officer of Mars One. “These aspiring Martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be,” Lansdorp added.

The Mars 100 Round Three candidates were selected from a pool of 660 candidates after participating in personal online interviews with Norbert Kraft, chief medical officer. The candidates are spread out over continents, with 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania.

The next selection rounds will focus on forming teams that can endure all the hardships of a permanent settlement on Mars. The candidates will receive their first shot at training in the copy of the Mars Outpost on Earth and will demonstrate their suitability to perform well in a team.

“Being one of the best individual candidates does not automatically make you the greatest team player; so I look forward to seeing how the candidates progress and work together in the upcoming challenges,” said Kraft.

Initially, 62 people had been shortlisted from India to compete for the one-way mission to Mars among 1,000 people.

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