Credit: Originally published by Brand South Africa | 17 February 2015.

Five South Africans have made it on to the shortlist of 100 candidates being considered for the Mars One space programme. Initially, more than 200 500 people applied to be trained as astronauts to stay on Mars. Mars One aims to establish a permanent human settlement on the Red Planet. Funding for the project has come from crowd-sourcing, merchandise sales and TV rights.

Applicants were whittled down to 660, and then to 100 in the third round. Of the 50 men and 50 women, 39 are from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, seven from Africa, and seven from Oceania. Five of the Africans are from South Africa. Of the group, 24 will be selected to go to Mars in 2024. Crews of four will depart for Mars every two years.

“The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars,” Bas Lansdorp, co-founder and chief executive of Mars One, said in a statement on Monday. “These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.”

Candidates were selected after participating in online interviews with Norbert Kraft, Mars One’s chief medical officer. “We were impressed with how many strong candidates participated in the interview round, which made it a very difficult selection,” Kraft said.

Interviews gave candidates a chance to show their understanding of the risks involved, team spirit, and their motivation to be part of the expedition.

The five South Africans are:

  • Divashen Govender, 23. He is a science student at the University of KwaZulu Natal.
  • Edwin Samuel le Grange, 21. A nature love, Le Grange lives in Ellisras.
  • Kobus Vermeulen, 31. This Pretoria resident describes himself as a business intelligence developer.
  • Adriana Rose Marais, 31. Marais, who lives in Durban, is theoretical physicist specialising in quantum biology.
  • Alexandra Doyle, 29. A law graduate, Doyle is currently living in the UK.

The two other Africans on the list are Eromosele Ighodalo Vince of Nigeria and Mohammed Elsayed Ahme of Egypt.