Sky is the limit: Gleb Osipov and Ritika Singh are among the 703 second round hopefuls for the Mars trip Image Credit: Xpress/ Ahmed Ramzan

Dubai Mars One will launch four carefully selected applicants in a Mars-bound spaceflight in 2024. They will become the first residents of Mars and every step of the crew’s journey will be documented for a reality television programme. Three from the UAE are on the initial (round two) shortlist of 703 candidates for the project.


Gleb Osipov

Russian Gleb Osipov, 24 opened his video production company in Tecom, Dubai last October and had begun enjoying its successes after years of working as a designer in a publishing company.

He is ready to quit it all today after being named amongst the 703 shortlisted worldwide for Round 2 of the Mars One selection process. “My life-long dream has been to go to outer space and experience the life. Seeing it become almost a reality is makes me forget everything else,” says the economics graduate from Petrozavodsk, his hometown in North West Russia.

“I was born just around when the Soviet Union was disintegrating. In the aftermath (of the dissolution of USSR), much of my extended family had moved far and wide and I permanently left home for work at 18,” says the only son of a couple still working in the Russian emergency services.

“There will be no separation anxiety. We are used to living away,” adds the youngest of the three UAE residents, now a step closer to setting foot on Mars in 2025.


Ritika Singh

The smart and sassy Indian Ritika Singh, 28 is single and admittedly happy to mingle but only with those, comes her caveat, who are on the spaceship with her to Mars. “It’s not a certainty yet but if I am selected to go to Mars, I will have to stay on for the rest of my life. So it’s natural that I be mentally and emotionally prepared to having a home and a family of my own there,” says the only UAE woman to be shortlisted by the not-for-profit foundation aiming to establish permanent human life on Mars.

“It’s definitely not going to be easy staying light years away from your loved ones and not meeting them in a lifetime but my parents should by now be used to my absence as I lived away from them for quite some time now,” says the youngest of three siblings in a family from New Delhi who works as a supply chain manager at a Dubai company, having left home for her engineering studies at 18. “I had always dreamt of going to Mars since I was five and I am glad that I stand a chance of accomplishing that childhood dream,” says the self-confessed party-animal who’s traveled to 32 countries, at last count, in her bid to ‘explore the world’. “It’s time to see a new planet altogether,” adds the MBA from a Dubai institute.


Mikolaj Zielinski

Polish Mikolaj Zielinski, 37 may be the eldest of the three UAE candidates shortlisted by Mars One project but he also employs the wisest approach to this ‘once in a lifetime expedition’. “I have experienced all what I have ever wanted to on Earth. So it’s not anymore about what I will miss (on Earth) but about what I will get (on Mars),” says the software engineer from Poznań, west-central Poland who has been working in a multi-national company in Dubai’s Silicon Oasis for close to two years.

“Going to Mars to me is an opportunity to explore a new world, explore the unseen,” says the aspiring astronaut who in fact is so smitten by the idea of becoming a part of the first human settlement on Mars that he’s planned to host a one-day conference in September on the subject.

By then, results of the second phase of the Mars One round two selection process involving personal interviews, is expected to be out but Miko, as his friends call him, is unfazed. “I will still go ahead organize the event and in fact any help, financial or otherwise (towards the conference), will be much appreciated,” says the martial arts exponent who claims to have cycled through the entire Karakoram highway from China to Pakistan besides riding a horse across Mongolia in the past.