By Neil Halligan
Dubai expats among applicants looking to book one-way ticket to the Red Planet in 2023
Two Dubai expats have made it through to the last 100 candidates who applied to be part of the Mars One Astronaut Selection Process.
Dubai residents Mikolaj Zielinski (38), from Poland and Ritika Singh (29), from India, made the latest shortlist after the initial call for applications last year generated 202,586 entries from would-be astronauts seeking to be among the first to obtain a one-way ticket to live on the Red Planet.
Other residents from the Middle East to make the shortlist include Mohammed Elsayed Ahme (32), from Nasr City, Cairo; Sadegh Modaresi (30), from Yazd, Iran and Elaheh Nouri (21), from Tehran, Iran.
Najeeb Waleed Najeeb (38), from Iraq, living in Fairfield, Iowa and Saeed Ghandhari (34), from Iran, living in St Heliers in Auckland, New Zealand and an expert in Middle East affairs and human rights, were also included on the shortlist of candidates who will face the next phase of testing later this year, before the list whittled down to the final by December 24.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Dubai resident Mikolaj Zielinski said his innate sense of adventure was what prompted him to apply in the first place.
“I always wanted to participate in some kind of expedition, something that’s a combination of adventure and science, something that would have a huge impact on our knowledge about geography, biology, or natural sciences in general,” he said, while citing Richard Branson and Steve Fossett as his idols when he was younger.
After making it through the initial stage, which involved submitting a medical cert and opening an online Mars One applicant profile to the public, the second round involved an online interview with six questions, some of which were based on study materials issued by Mars One.
Three questions related to the material while the other three were psychological questions.
“Dr Norbert Kraft, who is running the selection, was trying to find how we would be able to cope with a team, our team spirit, our motivation and understanding,” Zielinski revealed.
The next round, due to take place in the coming months, is expected to be more intense.
“They will have some tasks in the simulation outpost, because they are going to build a mock-up of the Mars outpost, somewhere in Europe,” Zielinski explained. “We will have a lot of challenges to show how candidates are able to work to deal with problems and to cope. The most important thing is to find people who are team players.”
Eventually, the 100 remaining will be whittled down to 24, who will then spend the next eight years training for the mission to Mars. Just four will make the first one-way trip to try and build a colony on Mars, with plans to send four every two years.
“For me it's an opportunity to have a great adventure and to do something to help humankind. This mission can make the next very important step in our development. The mission to Mars is something like moving to a new continent, like they did 100s of years ago when people discovered America,” he added.
Zielinski said he’s in the final stages of organising a conference about Mars exploration in Dubai, which the Mars One CEO, Bas Lansdorp, will attend.
Full details will be announced at a later date.For all the latest tech news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
I reckon they booked online and didn't realise they'd clicked "one way. Easy mistake to make.