TN girl inches closer towards settling on Mars

Wednesday 25th February 2015 06:40 EST

Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu): Nineteen-year-old college student Shradha Prasad is ecstatic about inching closer to her dream of settling down on Mars after clearing the third round of the 'Mars One' mission.

'Mars One' is an ambitious initiative by a Netherlands-based non-profit organisation by the same name, which hopes to send four people on a one-way trip to the Red Planet in 2024. Prasad is one of the three Indian candidates to have qualified for the fourth and the final round of the mission.

However, out of the three Indian candidates shortlisted so far, Prasad is the only one based in India. The other two Indians include Taranjeet Singh Bhatia, who is studying at the University of Central Florida and Ritika Singh, who is settled in Dubai.

Speaking about her feat, Prasad said living on two planets in one lifetime was something that she had only dreamt of so far, but now it will soon be a reality. "I came to know about this mission first in July 2013 and back then, when I wanted to apply to the mission, there was a lot of pressure from all sides, asking me not to apply because this seemed [to be] a very dangerous mission. I went ahead with it anyway and once I did, I crossed all the rounds. I feel very happy that I have made it this far," she said.

She added that her parents were initially reluctant of her move but now are proud and happy at her achievement. The fourth round of selection will comprise of dividing the candidates into teams and testing their endurance for settlement conditions on Mars.

This initiative by Mars One aims at setting up a human colony on Mars. As a part of this mission, around 40 people will eventually be sent to settle down on the planet permanently. Starting in 2024, crews of four people will be sent every two years, with the first unmanned flight slated for lift-off in 2018. This search for potential astronauts began in April 2013 and 202,586 applications were received by Mars One from across the world.

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