Mars One announced Monday that it had waded through the applications received from over 200,000 intrepid spaceflyers, whittling down the list of participants to just 1,058. These individuals are set to move onto the next phase of the application process, in the hope they will be one of the final 40 to travel to the Red Planet, with the first trip slated for a 2024 launch; the original application window closed on Aug. 31.
Mars One is a Dutch nonprofit organization that recently announced plans to dispatch volunteers on a one-way trip to Mars by 2025. Ultimately, the company aims to institute the very first permanent settlement on the Martian surface.
Candidates to be Awarded Chance to Reapply?
The short-listed candidates originate from over 107 countries across the globe, with the United States being the most represented, boasting close to 300 U.S. applicants that have passed the first round of the selection process. Canada is the next most represented country with 75 candidates, beating India and Russia with 62 and 52 applicants, respectively.
Alex Marion is alleged to be one of the candidates to have progressed into the second round. As a 26 year-old psychology graduate, Marion has dedicated much of his recent endeavors to promoting an online presence and has even created his own website and YouTube channel. On Dec. 30, Marion tweeted, “GOING TO ROUND 2! I’ve been selected to pass to the interview stage for Mars One!”
The following video shows Marion’s application video, submitted for Mars One’s first round:
Mars One cofounder Bas Lansdorp explained the difficulty involved in determining which candidates would be suitable for the next round of selection. In a recent Mars One press release, Lansdorp described how separation was based upon physical and mental characteristics:
“We’re extremely appreciative and impressed with the sheer number of people who submitted their applications. However, the challenge with 200,000 applicants is separating those who we feel are physically and mentally adept to become human ambassadors on Mars from those who are obviously taking the mission much less seriously. We even had a couple of applicants submit their videos in the nude!”
E-mail notifications were sent out to all successful candidates. Lansdorp also indicates – to those who were deemed unsuitable and did not pass the first cut – an opportunity to reapply may emerge in the future; the date of this application process is yet to be determined.
In attempting to offer recompense to those rejected individuals, the company cofounder brings their attention to U.S. astronaut Clayton Anderson, who was initially rejected by NASA for its astronaut training program, on 15 separate occasions. In 2007, Anderson boarded the Space Shuttle Atlantis to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) and, according to Lansdorp, “… proved anything can happen and the door is never completely closed.”
Future Application Rounds to be Filmed for Reality TV
Norbert Kraft, Chief Medical Officer for Mars One, recently discussed the next phase of the application process, which aims to test the various capabilities of their candidates:
“The next several selection phases in 2014 and 2015 will include rigorous simulations, many in team settings, with focus on testing the physical and emotional capabilities of our remaining candidates.”
However, the next phase of the selection process is still to be definitively established, as Mars One is, reportedly, continuing to engage in negotiations with various media companies for the rights to televise the candidate selection process.
It has been suggested by officials at Mars One that the selection process could be akin to reality television programs, such as American Idol, where candidates are closely followed and involved in some form of “regional selection round.” Round four could be broadcast globally, with applicants forming “international groups,” where individuals band together and cooperate as a team to demonstrate their capacity to endure harsh living conditions.
One of the project’s ambassadors is Paul Römer, who was involved in the development of The Big Donor Show and Big Brother. The Big Donor Show managed to win an Emmy award, while Big Brother has become a major global success. Now the director of Dutch broadcaster NTR, Römer has spoken about the project with great enthusiasm:
“They [Mars One] think so creatively, and outside of the box and the concept of a ‘one-way’ mission is both outrageous and exciting. These aspects are what brought me to the idea of making the mission the biggest media event in the world. Reality meets talent show with no ending and the whole world watching. Now there’s a pitch!”
Meanwhile, on Dec. 10, the company launched a crowd-funding campaign, designed to gather funds for an unmanned visit to Mars. In May of 2018, Mars One aims to launch a demonstration mission and deploy a communication satellite into a Mars stationary orbit; the comms link will facilitate communication between the Martian planet and Earth, allowing imagery and video footage to be relayed from the Red Planet’s surface.
In Washington DC, Mars One also announced agreements with major aerospace corporation Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology in developing “mission plans” for the 2018 venture.
By James Fenner