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26 May 2024

Mission Mars: Dubai's Ritika Singh confident of winning one way ticket to Red Planet

Ritika Singh is an Indian living in Dubai for the past four years. (Facebook)

By Ajanta Paul

She is passionate about travelling, an adrenaline junkie who loves mountaineering, sky diving, loves nature and in her own words "in love with this World", yet Ritika Singh is ready to 'take a giant leap' to Mars - FOREVER.

Why? "I have always had the urge to explore the unexplored. I am in love with this world, that still holds true but who knows, Mars could be even better!

"To gain some we lose some and (we) make some sacrifices, so I will be sacrificing things that I love now but in return I am sure I'll be getting something that's not here. I am too curious to know what Mars has for me."

That's Rikita Singh, a Dubai resident, who is one of the 100 shortlisted in the race for one way trip to Mars. Singh, 29, works as a supply chain manager in a retail company in the emirates.

She aspires to be one of the first humans to set foot on the Red Planet as planned by Mars One, a Netherland based non-profit group.

Mars One's mission is to send humans to the Red Planet and out of whopping 202,586 applicants, only 100 have been selected till now.

These 100 candidates will further go through more tests later this year and eventually 24 will be selected. And all these will be televised, more like a reality show.

Yes, you read it!

The progress of the hopefuls is set to be documented in a new show by TV company Endemol, makers of Big Brother.

Mars One must raise an estimated $6 billion, which they hope to achieve through various methods, including funding, sponsorship, sales and television is just another avenue to generate funds.

Ritika gives us a lowdown on what to expect in the next rounds.

"There are still two more rounds left, first will be more of a team-building exercises. We will be put in a place for two weeks and given different tasks to perform in groups. We will have to study and give exams and do run tests for things we might have to do in Mars. Our bonding and compatibility will also be put to test."

For the next round the candidates will have to endure physical tasks to prove how tough they are to sustain the obvious risks they face.

The candidates will receive their first shot at training in the copy of the Mars Outpost on Earth and will demonstrate their suitability to perform well in a team.

Breaming with confidence Ritika says, "For me the tougher part was the last round, where I was very nervous about the technical questions. The next round is based on how compatible you are with other people, how well you perform in a group - it’s all about team - which I am very good at."

Ritika gets her confidence from the fact that she has travelled extensively and good at adapting to new culture and enjoys meeting people.

She is not bogged down by the physical round thanks to her passion of running, hiking and mountaineering having conquered two summits - Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Elbrus.

Rikita says, "I have been in harsh conditions and difficult situations with different groups of people and I have realised that I become stronger and tougher when I face challenges and that’s why I am confident about the next two rounds."

And how did she manage to convince her parents back in India?

This Delhi girl says, initially her parents were shocked (that’s expected). She flew down to India to break the news, talk to them and... "I cried and tried to convince my mom." That was simple!

On a serious note Ritika tells me, "They saw my point and now they are very proud of me, when I broke the news of the recent selection, they were more excited than I was."

Ritika is mentally and physically training to live in a planet that has always been a difficult target for astronauts, with only few unmanned missions succeeding.

There are nay sayers who thinks the project may have to take a step back, at least to reconsider the mission’s technical feasibility.

The journey itself is expected to take around seven months, and a recent MIT study found that, should the first explorers succeed in landing, using current technology they would likely survive just 68 days.

So why would anyone chooses to go to Mars on a one-way mission?

"Since we know so less about Mars, it is all the more important to go there and settle and explore and find the answers about things we don't know about the planet. Once we go there we will expand and be able to answer the unanswered," Ritika says emphatically.

She believes this mission will open up new opportunities and inspire a new generation and facilitate astronauts to study the planet in a better way. This journey will be for mankind.

She is unfazed by the sceptics and danger associated with the mission, "Mars One has prepared an entire road map and before sending human beings they are launching unmanned mission slated for 2018. A lot will depend on that and they will not put any life in danger."

Mars One aims for the first crew consisting of 4 individuals to blast off from Earth in 2024 and from then on every two years a crew (total six crews of four) will leave for Mars.

Mars One hopes to starting a colony there that will aid our understanding of the origins of the solar system, the origins of life and our place in the universe.

Ritika Singh, 29, believes that all things are possible and achievable - this is her giant leap for mankind.