Engineering student from Gurgaon gets one step closer to Mars

In 2012, Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdrop announced one of the biggest events in history a one-way trip to Mars in 2025.

Miles away, the idea struck the fancy of a mechanical engineering student in Gurgaon. Amulya Nidhi Rastogi (20) followed the project closely, and when the opportunity arose in April, 2013, he sent in his application, enclosing a motivation letter and a video.

Amulya's was among the two lakh applications that Netherlands-based founders Mars One received.

And he became one of the youngest of the 1,058 applicants to be selected for the next round of interviews.

"I belong to the 0.5 per cent applicants who made it to the next round. We were asked questions that focused on psychological and behavioural patterns of human beings. I think they wanted to test the of seriousness about the project," Amulya says.

Asked if the concept of a one-way trip to another planet sounded eerie, Amulya is quick to reply that for him, it is the "exploration of the unknown". "Humans settled and acclimatised to earth conditions. They are intelligent creatures, so they must take up new challenges," he says.

Born to Suhasini and Roop Kishan Rastogi in a middle class household, Amulya was not sure how his parents would react to his decision.

"He told us only after he had submitted his application. He would usually confide in his younger brother Tushar. Der raat tak baatein kartein the par hume pata nahi laga (they would talk about it late into the night, but we didn't have a hint)", his father said. He is not whole-heartedly backing his son's dream.

Amulya's mother too was reluctant initially. But, seeing her son's passion, she began to support him.

"He is doing something odd and different and is part of a historical project. He has been reading books about Mars and has also made many presentations in college about space science," Suhasini said.

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