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Four Chinese among top 100 candidates for one-way trip to Mars

(Chinadaily.com.cn)    15:17, February 22, 2015

Four Chinese are among the top 100 candidates for the Mars One project, among whom 24 will be selected in the end to receive special training for the supposedly one-way trips to Mars, China National Radio reported on Saturday.

The four Chinese candidates are Li Dapeng (male) and Lin Xiaoxia (female) from China, Sue Ann Pien (female) from the US and Maggie Lieu (female) from the UK.

Mars One, a Dutch non-profit project co-founded in 2013 by Bas Lansdorp, a Dutch entrepreneur, aims to establish a permanent manned station on Mars. Crews of four will depart Earth for the planet every two years, starting in 2024, and they will also be a part of a reality TV show.

"How many opportunities does one have to spend billions of dollars? I want to make good use of this opportunity to explore other planets and expand the presence of mankind in the universe," said Li Dapeng, a gardener at a local forestry bureau in Handan, North China's Hebei province, after graduating from China Agricultural University with a bachelor's degree.

It's reported that the expenses for food delivery for the first batch of four explorers will amount to $4.5 billion.

Despite not having his family's support, Li, a father in his 30s, said he would continue to be part of the project, though he might drop out halfway if his family voices strong disapproval.

Astrophysicist Maggie Lieu is writing a PhD dissertation on cosmic giants at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

The bilingual 24-year-old, who is fluent in Chinese and English, said her love of science and space make worthwhile the very real risks of a cruel Martian atmosphere and that she may even have a baby on Mars.

"It's not assisted suicide, (because) we're not definitely going to die when we go up there. Mars One will try their best to make it as safe as possible before we go. It's not for 10 years' time, so technology will have advanced tremendously by then," Lieu said.

"Because Mars One's mission is to colonize Mars and we're sending quite a few people up there, it's inevitable that one day we will have to reproduce to maintain the society,'she said.

The project has been controversial ever its beginning. Some say they love the idea of humankind exploring and setting up camp on Mars, but that it's a one-way ticket and that freaks them out. Others even accuse the project of being a con game, with crowd funding, advertising revenue and a reality series.

The organizers promised that "a reliable living environment will be waiting for the astronauts when they leave Earth". A demonstration mission, communication satellites, two rovers and several cargo missions will be sent to Mars ahead of the selected astronauts.

The journey to the Red Planet will take at least seven months. After landing, astronauts will have to cope with intense radiation and hazardous temperatures and have no way of returning, based on existing technology.

Communication with the Earth also will be problematic as radio signals, depending on the alignment of the planets, can take between 4-21 minutes to travel from Mars.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yao Chun,Bianji)

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