This NASA image obtained on March 7, 2014 was acquired by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on January 16, 2014. (AFP photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)
Amulya Nidhi Rastogi, who works with a private company in Gurgaon, got the news of being shortlisted for the personal interview for the ‘one-way ticket’ to Mars just a day before his 21st birthday.
“It was a birthday gift for me. I am so excited about the whole thing. I will now have to focus on the interview.” Amulya was initially reluctant to disclose that he had applied for the Mars trip to his parents but now he says they are also excited about the whole thing.
Amulya is one of the 44 Indians, including 17 females from a pool of 705, to have been shortlisted in the round two of Mars One astronaut selection process. Mars One is a not-for-profit foundation that aims to establish permanent human life on Mars.
Mars One had sent out the call for applicants willing to become the first human colonists on Mars. More than two lakh people had applied for the mission and after screening the number came down to 1,058, including 62 Indians. They were asked to provide a medical statement of health and open their online Mars One applicant profile for the public by March 2014.
In terms of numbers of shortlisted candidates, India with 44 persons ranks third after the US (204) and Canada (54). Besides the metros, some of the shortlisted people are from smaller cities like Bareilly, Palakkad and Naigaon.
“I was expecting to clear this round. It was my childhood dream to become an astronaut,” said Vinod Kotiya, 31, who works in Bhopal.
Bas Lansdorp, Co-founder & CEO of Mars One told HT, “We are excited that 44 Indians have been shortlisted in round two. It shows that India is a major player in Mars trip and the chance of an Indian being selected for the final trip is pretty high.”