A total of 1,259 Gulf
residents have applied to join a program that is aiming to establish the first
human settlement on the planet Mars by 2023, with the majority coming from Saudi
Arabia, a spokesperson for the Dutch company behind the ambitious project exclusively
told Arabian Business.
The Mars One
Astronaut Selection Program received more than 202,586 applications from people
around the world seeking to be among the first to obtain a one-way ticket to
live on the Red Planet.
applicants come from over 140 countries, with the largest coming from the US
(47,654), India (20,747), China (13,176), Brazil (10,289) and Great Britain
A spokesperson for
Mars One told Arabian Business a total of 1,259 residents from the six GCC
countries applied to join the program. With 477 applications, the majority of
would-be Gulf astronauts seeking to blast into space came from Saudi Arabia.
421 applicants, followed by Kuwait with 142 and Qatar with 122.
Just 52 UAE-based
residents applied, and only 45 were willing to swop Oman for the Red Planet.
The deadline has now
closed for applications and all 202,586 applicants will go forward to the Mars
One Selection Committee, which will select prospective Martian settlers in
three additional rounds spread across two years.
By 2015, six to ten
teams of four individuals will be selected for seven years of full-time
training. In 2023, one of these teams will become the first humans ever to land
on Mars and live there for the rest of their lives.
The initial section
process is expected to take several months, the company said. Any Gulf-based
candidates selected to pass to the next round will be notified by the end of
The second round of
selection will start in early 2014, where the candidates will be interviewed in
person by the Mars One Selection Committee.
The project was
launched in April by Stichting Mars One, a Dutch non-for-profit foundation.
In the coming years,
a demonstration mission, communication satellites, two rovers and several cargo
missions will be sent to Mars. These missions will set up the outpost where the
human crew will live and work and it is planned to have a human settlement on
the Martian surface by 2023.
The US is already in
the early stages of plans to land humans on the surface of Mars in 2036,
Charles Elachi, head of NASA’s missions to the Red Planet, told delegates at
the Arabian Business Forum 2012 in Dubai in November.
“We don’t have a
programme [to send a man to Mars] but we are starting to plan,” Elachi, who
heads up the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Pasadena-based NASA agency
that constructs and operates robotic planetary spacecraft, said.
we can go to Mars every four years or so. Every 18 years they get very close.
We are thinking not for 2018 but 2036 [for a human mission],” he added.
Elachi’s team at JPL
successfully masterminded the landing of a one-tonne vehicle – called
‘Curiosity’ – in a deep crater on the surface of Mars in August 2012.
The rover has now
begun a two-year mission to look for evidence that the Red Planet may once have
supported life, but Elachi said plans to send humans to Mars is possible.
“It is a challenge as
it takes nine months to get there. Imagine if you are sending three people for
18 months, how much food and garbage and water you have to take. It is a
massive engineering challenge but it is it is feasible.
"We are in the
early stages. 2036 – that is the target,” he said.
still retains his ties with the Gulf region via a board position of the King
Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the King Fahd
University of Petrochemicals and Minerals, both in Saudi Arabia.
Last month it was the
one-year anniversary of Curiosity’s landing on Mars and its findings have so
far concluded that the planet could indeed have supported microbial life, the
primary goal of the mission.
thing is that we found it all so quickly," California Institute of
Technology geologist and lead project scientist John Grotzinger told Reuters in
Now scientists hope
to learn whether life-friendly niches on Mars are common and whether any
organic carbon has been preserved in the planet's ancient rocks.
Curiosity is expected
to be joined next year by another NASA robotic probe, called MAVEN, which will
remain in orbit to assess how and why the planet is losing its atmosphere.