On 30 December 2013, Mars One announced that it had selected 1,058 people to progress to Round Two of their Astronaut Selection Process.* The not-for-profit foundation, which plans to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars, began its search for potential colonists on 22 April 2013.* This first round consisted of an online application coupled with a short video submission. While the online application required individuals to discuss in detail their qualifications and past experiences, Mars One asked that candidates submit a short, one-minute video answering 3 questions:
- Why would you like to go to Mars?
- How would you describe your sense of humor?
- What makes you the perfect candidate for this mission to Mars? *
For those applicants who opted to have their video available to the public, Mars One allowed for viewers to score each applicant on a scale from 1 to 5. Each video’s popularity and score were analyzed by the Mars One team after the submission period ended on 31 August 2013.* Initially, there was much confusion over how heavily the video scores would contribute to who progressed on to Round Two. Early on, it was discovered that the voting process could be manipulated so as to give certain candidates higher or lower scores. Bas Lansdorp, the CEO and co-founder of Mars One, released this statement regarding the video scoring: “Our first selection will be purely on their application. We will look at the popularity or number of views, but it’s very easy to cheat on popularity or number of views. So it’s not something we can really use. We will make our first selection based on the initial information that you cannot see online – their resume, their work experience, their education, and of course the video, and the questionnaire that they fill out online. These will be the basis of determining whether they go to round number two or not. But if we’re excluding people with high popularity, we’ll take a second look, but that’s the most they can get out of high popularity.”*
Although 202,586* people from around the world expressed interest in the Mars One mission, 1,058 individuals representing 107 countries have progressed on to Round Two. For more detailed information regarding the geographical, occupational, and educational breakdown of these candidates, please refer to the infographic below:
Click on Infographic for larger version
Candidates must now obtain a medical statement from a physician which states that they pass all health requirements. Once the deadline for applicants to have completed the medical examination passes, further information will be released regarding the interview stage of Round Two. Applicants who did not make it on to Round Two will have another chance to reapply to become a future Mars colonist at a later date.
For now, the timeline for the first Mars One mission includes narrowing down the 1,058 applicants over the next few years. Norbert Kraft, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Mars One states, “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. We expect to begin understanding what is motivating our candidates to take this giant leap for humankind. This is where it really gets exciting for Mars One, our applicants, and the communities they’re a part of.”*