Mars One Names Britons Short-Listed For One Way Trip To Red Planet

Five Britons have been shortlisted for a one-way trip to Mars as they hope to become the first humans to step foot on the Red Planet.

Four women and a man from the UK are among the final 100 candidates for the Mars One Project which plans to set up a (somewhat far-fetched) permanent human settlement on the planet by 2024.

The hopefuls are Hannah Earnshaw, 23, a PhD student in astronomy at Durham University, Dr Maggie Lieu, 24, a PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Birmingham, Oxford University student Ryan MacDonald, 21, from Derby, Alison Rigby, 35, a science laboratory technician, from Beckenham, Kent, and Clare Weedon, 27, a systems integration manager for Virgin Media, from Addlestone, in Surrey.

Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp (L) holds a press conference to announce the launch of astronaut selection for a Mars space mission project

More than 200,000 people applied for the controversial privately-funded mission that organisers have estimated will cost six billion dollars and is set to be filmed for a reality television series.

In total, 50 men and 50 women have been shortlisted from around the world, including 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, seven from Africa and seven from Oceania.

They were selected from a pool of 660 candidates after taking part in online interviews with the mission's chief medical officer Norbert Kraft, where they were tested on their understanding of the risks involved, team spirit and motivation to be part of the expedition.

Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, co-founder of Mars One, said: "The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars. These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be."

Candidates that were not selected will have a chance to re-apply in a new application round that will open in 2015.

So who are the "lucky" British candidates?

Dr Maggie Lieu, 24, a PhD in astrophysics at the University of Birmingham

"It's always been my dream to explore space and advance space science so being given the opportunity to one of the first ever people to physically land on that piece of space rock would be a dream come true."

Ryan MacDonald, 21, from Derby, a Masters student in physics at Oxford University

"I would like to go to Mars for a dream. Humanity's greatest strength is our ability to dream of a better world, to imagine a future and to inspire a generation to bring it to life."

Alison Rigby, 35, a science laboratory technician, from Beckenham, Kent

"I want to be remembered for doing something great. I think it's time for humans to leave the Earth and start living somewhere else and I have the skills to help make that happen."

Clare Weedon, 27, a systems integration manager for Virgin Media, from Addlestone, in Surrey

"I want to go to Mars because it's the ultimate experience of a lifetime. I want to achieve the best, I want to do amazing things, this would be the icing on the cake."

Hannah Earnshaw, 23, a PHD student in astronomy, from Durham

"Putting a colony in Mars is just a small step in such a big adventure and that's such an incredible thing to be a part of."