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South Africans Divashen Govender, Kobus Vermeulen, Adriana Marais, Edwin le Grange and Alexandra Doyle have been shortlisted as part of a group of 100 participants from across the globe looking for a one-way ticket to Mars.
In 2013, the Mars One private space programme tried to raise US$400 000 on the crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo, but only managed to raise US$313 000. Still, awareness seemed to have paid off well and the team behind this ambitious project isn’t slowing down one bit.
Just over 2 000 people from across the globe initially applied to go to the red planet in nine years’ time. After filtering through the candidates, the group was whittled down to 660 and now 100.
There are 50 men and 50 women who successfully passed the second round. The candidates come from all around the world, namely 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania. “We were impressed with how many strong candidates participated in the interview round, which made it a very difficult selection,” said Dr. Norbert Kraft.
Of the 100, 24 will ultimately be chosen to colonise Mars. This dramatic video, which seems to be inspired by something of a Survivor or The Hunger Games trailer, gives you the lowdown of the programme’s aspirations:
Explaining why he would like to go to Mars, mathematics and physics student from KwaZulu-Natal Divashen Govender says the following:
I love challenging myself and having new experiences. Space and space exploration has always been a dream of mine. To set foot on another planet and pave the way for mankind’s journey into a true space age would be so surreal. I believe that we can responsibly inhabit other planets and advance our knowledge of science along the way. On Mars we would be able to begin a whole new age of astronomy and science.
You can read all about the candidates together with their video diaries here. It’s really inspiring to watch.
The Mars One announcement notes that the following selection rounds will focus on composing 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 Dr. Norbert Kraft.
This epic mission to colonise Mars is said to commence in 2024.