That private Mars One mission just made a major cut to its list of potential astronauts

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May 9, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT

The folks at NASA might be putting plans for a manned mission to Mars on the shelf, but the private spaceflight industry hopes to pick up the slack.

Mars One is among those leading the charge, with the unique approach of setting up the entire mission as a one-way trip that will play out as a massive reality TV program. The project opened up applications last year, and they’ve now whittled the list all the way down to just 705 potential astronauts.

The remaining astronaut candidates will now advance to an interview round with Mars One's selection committee, after which they’ll once again trim the list to a smaller number of potential explorers. The survivors will win a one-way trip to the Red Planet.

Mars One chief medical officer Norbert Kraft noted that applicants will need to show their “knowledge, intelligence, adaptability and personality” in this next phase. What makes this interesting is the fact that Mars One isn’t just looking for astronauts — they’re looking for astronauts who are interesting enough to base a compelling reality TV series around.

It’ll be interesting to see if this is a serious, compelling drama about trying to get to space ... or just Real World Mars. Which, admittedly, does sound pretty cool when you lay it out there.

(Via Space)