|1,058 Pass Mars One's First Astronaut Test|
|By JON M. CHANG||Dec 31, 2013, 1:01 PM|
Getting into Harvard might be a cakewalk compared to getting a spot on Mars One's 2024 manned mission to the red planet. The nonprofit organization announced Monday that after watching more than 200,000 application videos, it chose 1,058 people to move on to the next round of screening.
"We're extremely appreciative and impressed with the sheer number of people who submitted their applications," co-founder Bas Lansdorp said in a statement.
Less impressive were the number of people who took the application process as a joke. "We even had a couple of applicants submit their videos in the nude," he added.
The United States had the most candidates, at 297. Canada was next with 75, and India in third with 62. But more than 107 countries are represented in Mars One's selections. In terms of gender, men outnumber women 586 to 472, making up slightly more than 55 percent of the potential astronauts.
The 1,058 will be whittled down further in future screens. Mars One has not responded to ABC News' request for comment, but chief medical officer Norbert Kraft said in the statement that the next two years will put those applicants through their paces.
"The next several selection phases in 2014 and 2015 will include rigorous simulations, many in team settings," he said.
More details about the screening are expected in early 2014.
John Spencer, the founder of the Space Tourism Society, is not as optimistic that Mars One will actually land on the planet. "I respect their interest and wish them well, but I really just don't take them seriously," he told ABC News. "I have a bet with a friend of mine whether it's two or three years before Mars One fades away."
Spencer claims that Mars One is in way over its head. "You need billions of dollars to do a Mars mission," he said. "There have been companies over the last 20 years that have raised money and tested some engines, but then they realize how hard it is. It's difficult, even for the best of the best with an unlimited budget."
Even though Spencer doesn't see Mars One lasting for more than a couple of years, he does say that future space companies can learn a thing or two from the organization's experience.
"They proved that there's an interest worldwide to explore Mars, that it's no one country's adventure but Earth's adventure," he said.
"They garnered the imagination of millions of people, and that's actually pretty good."