A KwaZulu-Natal man is a step closer to realising his dream of being among the first humans to establish a permanent colony on Mars by 2027.
Divashen Govender, 23, from Pinetown is vying for the one-way trip scheduled for take-off in 2026. Mars One recently announced details of the next round in which 100 candidates will be whittled down to 24 next year.
Govender, who has just completed his BSc degree in Applied Mathematics and Physics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said he is ready for the next selection process, which is called “Screening from 100 to 24”.
According to information provided by the Mars One website, after completing various challenges the 100 will be reduced to 40. The team will then enter the next selection process which is spending nine days in an isolation unit. Only 30 candidates will make it to the following round.
The candidates will then participate in a Mars Settler Suitability Interview. Only 24 candidates will be selected after the interview. Successful candidates will be employed permanently by Mars One.
Govender said, “I am ecstatic about the next round. It will be quite an experience. I am looking forward to meeting the other candidates from abroad.”
Govender has his sights set on making it into the top 40.
“I am interested and would love to make it to the isolation phase because I thrive under new experiences and love pushing and testing myself.”
However, he said making into the top 24 would be a dream come true.
“It would make me so proud to represent South Africa as one of the 24. I am already happy for the privilege to fly our SA flag high amongst other first world countries, showing them just what we are made of.”
‘Beyond my ultimate dream’
While growing up, Govender always dreamt of going into space.
“My career choice was sculpted by my fascination at what lies out there. The Mars One Project came along and presented an opportunity that was beyond my ultimate dream.”
He said that since completing his studies, he has been sharing his passion for astronomy and space with high school pupils and various science fairs.
“I hope to inspire the youth of South Africa to realise that a career in astronomy is viable in SA and not just something Nasa does.”
He said he realises that he may not make the final cut.
“If I don’t make it I will continue with astrophysics which has a relation to the Mars One project and further my studies to postgraduate level.
“I would still love to continue my outreach presentations on space science and astronomy to inspire the youth to choose a career in maths and science as well as to educate the public.”