Some conflicting information came out this week regarding Mars One, the privately (un) funded project which aims to send teams of four colonists each to the Red Planet beginning in the mid- 2020”s. As the excerpt from the Mars One press release below indicates, the organization has culled the number of applicants from just over 200,000 to an even 100.
At the same time, SpaceNews reports that MarsOne has “quietly suspended work” on its planned 2018 Mars orbiter and lander. As the first pieces of tangible hardware actually sent to Mars by the organization, the pair of spacecraft including a lander based Lockheed Martin’s successful 2007 Phoenix lander, has been seen as something of litmus test of the group’s seriousness.
While the news certainly isn’t encouraging, it should be pointed out that the lack of a development contract to Lockheed Martin, which has already delivered the initial study contract does not necessarily equal “gave up.” It was always a bit surprising that Mars One would engage what seems to be the highest cost contractor on the planet for anything if it could be helped, and it could be that alternate plans, as well as alternate timelines, are still under consideration. As India’s MOM mission has shown, at least as far as orbiters go, not all paths to the Mars are paved in platinum.
Much of course, may depend on the market Mars One finds for its planned reality series highlighting the next phase of competition between the 100 remaining contestants. which will see the number winnowed down to 24. Alas, details regarding that element are hard to come by as well, with trailer below stating simply “coming soon to a screen near you.”
From Mars One:
Amersfoort, 16th February 2015 – From the initial 202,586 applicants, only 100 hopefuls have been selected to proceed to the next round of the Mars One Astronaut Selection Process. These candidates are one step closer to becoming the first humans on Mars.
“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 & CEO of Mars One. “These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.”
The Mars 100 Round Three candidates were selected from a pool of 660 candidates after participating in personal online interviews with Norbert Kraft, M.D., Chief Medical Officer. During the interviews the candidates had a chance to show their understanding of the risks involved, team spirit and their motivation to be part of this life changing expedition. “We were impressed with how many strong candidates participated in the interview round, which made it a very difficult selection” said Dr. Norbert Kraft.
Who are the Mars 100 Round Three candidates? 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