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Mars One: 4 Minnesotans step closer to taking 'next giant leap for mankind'

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Four Minnesotans are among the semifinalists for a one-way trip to Mars.

Mars One, a Dutch nonprofit behind a multi-billion dollar project to take the "next giant leap for mankind" by establishing a human settlement on the Red Planet, announced 663 semifinalists Monday who are in the running to blast off to Earth's neighbor in 2024, but never return, the Pioneer Press reports.

The semifinalists from Minnesota include: Jackson Kisling of Woodbury, Chad Schilling of Eden Prairie, Paul Larson of New Hope and an Eagan man whose name hasn't been confirmed, the newspaper says.

Mars One said earlier this year that 200,000 people from around the world applied to go on the trip – 24 percent were from the United States.

The next step for the applicants is a Skype interview with Mars One, which will narrow down the field to 40 finalists, King 5 News reports.

Mars One hopes to be the first organization to put humans on the planet without planning how it will get them back to Earth, the Pioneer Press says.

Last month, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study looked at whether the mission to Mars could even work, noting it's not likely with today's technology because there are concerns over Mars' unsafe oxygen levels, unreliable water supply and no clear way to get the settlers supplies.

However, Mars One says human settlement on Mars is possible today with existing technologies.

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