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A third of the 'Mars One' hopefuls have dropped out ... but all three Irish candidates still in the running

Over 300 people have dropped out of contention for the Mars One project, due to medical or other personal reasons.

Image: mars concept via Shutterstock

Updated at 5.53pm

THERE’S BEEN A huge drop off in the number of candidates hoping to fly to the Red Planet as part of the ambitious Mars One project.

706 people are still in the running around the globe — down from the original selection of 1,058 announced at the start of the year.

The initiative of entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp and scientist Arno Wielders, both from The Netherlands, the Mars One project aims to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars by the year 2025.

It would see two dozen pioneers abandon Earth and embark on a risky mission to begin a new life some 55 million km away.  The final 24 would be sent to the Red Planet in six separate launches starting in ten years.

Candidates have been submitting medical tests to Mars One HQ over the last few months. The initial 1,058 were also given a deadline to switch their online profiles on the official site from ‘private’ to ‘public’.

A number of candidates still in the running posted the text of an email from Mars One HQ on Twitter this afternoon:

From the originally 1058 pre-selected astronaut candidates, nearly one-third dropped out in the first phase of this selection round.

Besides not being able to provide the medical statement or make their profile public, several others withdrew their candidacy due to personal reasons.

It’s expected regional interviews will be carried out in the next few months.

Three Irish-based candidates were included in the initial shortlist: scientist Dr Joseph Roche, IT professional Steve Menaa, and Dr Catherine McGrath.

A Mars One spokesperson confirmed to TheJournal.ie that all three were still in the running to take part in the mission.

The high cost of the mission — estimated at €4.4 billion — precludes the option of a return trip. It’s planned the project will be mainly funded by a reality-TV show detailing candidates’ progress.

Next phase: Mars mission hopeful Dr Joseph Roche begins medical testing

Read: So, what are the chances we’ll see an Irishman (or anybody) head to Mars?

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