Yogesh Jethewad and Abhimanyu Singh have never made a journey out of the country.
Their first long distance trip might be out of the planet. To Mars.
Both Jethewad and Singh are applicants to the Mars One mission, which aims to settle a colony of humans on Mars by 2023.
Once the applications deadline lapsed in August, the nonprofit foundation organising the mission announced that Indians made up the second highest group of applicants (10% of the total 2,02,586), after the United States of America (24%).
“I haven’t been out of the country, but have travelled around India. If chosen, I expect a once-in-a-lifetime adventure,” said Jethewad, 25, an IAS aspirant from Nanded, who has just moved to Delhi.
This is the first stage of the application process, and applicants will face three rounds of screening over two years for the one-way trip.
Singh, 26, a software developer in Mumbai, has joined a gym, is avoiding junk food and plans to learn swimming to boost his chances of getting picked. “I couldn’t pursue a career in space science and ended up becoming an engineer,” he said. “To be a part of this programme would be a historic moment.”
Jethewad and Singh stressed on a sense of adventure as a key motivating factor for the mission, but there are others driven not by adventure, but by curiosity. “I am fascinated by what’s out there,” said Anil Sadarangani, 35, director of the Manhattan Short Film Festival India.
“This won’t be some science-fiction fantasy. If one is chosen, it will be challenging journey.”
City-wise data of applicants is not available yet.
“The amount of applicants depends strongly on how many people can be reached,” said Norbert Kraft, chief medical director, Mars One, via email.
“If you don’t know you can apply, you won’t.”