The Dutch-based Mars One venture says it's winnowed down its list of applicants to 50 men and 50 women who will compete for the chance to take a one-way trip to Mars. Yes, that's the reward — not the punishment. The Mars One project plans to put on a reality-TV competition to select 24 prospective crew members for missions to Mars, starting as early as 2024. Winners would be expected to start up a permanent colony on the Red Planet.
Thousands signed up for Mars One consideration in 2013, and the 100 competitors (full list here) were chosen after going through interviews with chief medical officer Norbert Kraft. "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." Kraft said in a news release issued Monday.
Mars One estimates that it will need billions of dollars to conduct its Mars missions, including a robotic rover mission planned for launch in 2018. The money question is the biggest unknown right now, but last year an MIT study concluded that the venture's plan to send humans to Mars and keep them alive was "overly optimistic" on technical grounds.
— Alan Boyle