Mars One mission: five Britons going into training for one-way trip to Red Planet

Chances are high that at least a couple of the Brits, who are mostly students, will be chosen for the mission

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The Independent Online

Five Britons have got onto a shortlist for a trip to Mars — from which they will probably never return.

They are part of a 100 person shortlist for the Mars One mission — a private trip by volunteers to Mars, which will be funded by a reality TV show — which has been whittled down from a list of 202,586 original applicants. The next round will see the contestants go through a training programme, with 40 people being chosen to eventually head to Mars.

The five Britons chosen include Maggie Lieu, a Birmingham PhD student who says that she would like to be the first person to have a baby on Mars. The other British people are Hannah Earnshaw, a 23-year-old Durham University PhD student; Ryan MacDonald, who is 21 and an Oxford University student; Alison Rigby, a 35-year-old science lab technician and Clare Weedon, a 27-year-old systems integration manager at Virgin Media.

While Lieu has said that she is worried about what her family will think if she is chosen to head off on the mission, other Britons have spoken of their families’ support.

Hannah Earnshaw told Sky News that: "My family is pretty thrilled. They're really happy for me.

"Obviously it's going to be challenging, leaving Earth and not coming back.

"I've had support from my friends and family and we can still communicate via the internet."

On her profile on the Mars One page, Alison Rigby says that her family have been supportive but worried.

“I can understand their concerns; as time passes I realise more and more how deeply they feel for me and I for them,” she writes. “However as a potential representative of humanity on Mars I feel I have a responsibility to far more people.”

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Most of the people on the shortlist come from the US. The Britons are part of 31 hopefuls from Europe, 16 from Asia, seven from Africa and seven from Australia.

But fears have been raised that none of the aspirant Martians will actually be able to get to the planet — and that the whole process is more of a publicity stunt for the TV show that is being said to fund it than a genuine attempt to get humans to Mars.

Big Brother producer Endemol will follow the hopeful astronauts as they are trained for the mission, it confirmed in a statement.

Commander Chris Hadfield, the astronaut who became famous during his time on the International Space Station, has said that the project may be overly optimistic and become a disappointment.

"I fear it's going to be a little disillusioning for people because it's presented as if it's going to happen and so all those people are excited," he told American magazine Matter.

But the Dutch entrepeneur behind the project, Bars Lansdorp, has denied claims that the mission is anything but genuine.

"If you look at the team involved in Mars One, none of us would do this as a hoax," Lansdorp told the BBC in 2012, when the mission was just getting off the ground.

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