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Indian American in Florida, 2 Indians shortlisted for one-way trip to Mars

Taranjeet Singh Bhatia, Ritika Singh, Shradha Prasad make the cut.

By Dileep Thekkethil

Mars-OneBENGALURU: Three Indians have been selected to the final round of the one-way trip to the planet Mars that is scheduled to take off with four people every two years starting in 2024 to explore the red planet.

Of the three Indians selected, two are women. If they make the final list of 24 individuals, they will become part of the private interplanetary mission seeking permanent home on Mars.

The one way trip to Mars is a project initiated by Mars One, a non-profit organization based in Netherlands. They had received 202,586 applications, out of which 100 candidates now remain, for the final Mars One Astronaut Selection Process, that will determine the 24 candidates for the mission.

Shradha Prasad, a 19 year-old engineering student from Kerala, is one of the two Indians selected. The is Ritika Singh, 29, from Delhi. Taranjeet Singh Bhatia, 29, lives in Orlando, Florida.

When contacted by The Hindustan Times, Ritika Singh said, “I applied because I have been adventurous since childhood and like to take on challenges. What can be a better challenge than this? We all take a two-way ticket. To get a one way ticket to Mars will be a lifetime experience.”

She added it was hard to convince her family, “but I made them understand this is my dream and this is what will make me happy. Now they are fine.”

Prasad, the teenager from Palakkad district, said even though she will miss her family here on Earth, she is happy of getting through the rounds as she loves taking risks and above all, space science has always been a passion.

Out of the 100 people selected to the final round, 50 are men and 50 are women. The Mars One shortlist included 39 Americans, 31 Europeans, 16 Asians, 7 Africans and 7 from Oceania.

If shortlisted in the final 24, the three Indians will not have to pay any money for their interplanetary stay and will receive a regular salary from Mars One until they are sent to the red planet.

According to the estimates released by Mars One, the first mars mission, which is expected to take off some time in 2024, will cost approximately $6 billion. They are also planning for unmanned mission by 2018, a trial run before the manned mission. 

Bas Lansdorp, co-founder and CEO of Mars One was reported as saying, “The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars.” He also added that “these aspiring Martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.”

Mars One shortlisted the 100 candidates by conducting personal online interviews, done by Mars One Chief Medical Office, Norbert Kraft. The final 24 will be selected based on performance in group exercises, which will be broadcast on TV and on the Internet.

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