Waterloo alumnus makes first cut for Mars One mission

Ben Criger, a PhD alumnus of the University of Waterloo's Institute for Quantum Computing, made the first cut of hopefuls to join the Mars One mission to establish a permanent human settlement on the red planet.
Ben Criger is one of 75 Canadians to make it to the second round of the Mars One selection process. The goal of the mission is to establish a permanent human colony on the red planet. (Submitted by Ben Criger)

A PhD alumnus of the University of Waterloo's Institute for Quantum Computing has made the first cut of applicants looking to join the Mars One mission to establish a permanent human settlement on the red planet.

Ben Criger is one of the 1,058 finalists selected out of the inital 200,000 people around the world who want to be among the first humans to stand on Martian soil. The mission's first team of four is expected to leave Earth in April of 2024 on a 210-day, one-way flight to Mars.

"I was pleasantly surprised," Criger said of receiving an email from the Mars One team.

"They're extremely pragmatic and low-key with it. They just email you with the address that you gave them and they say 'Congratulations, you made the second cut. Now you have to go get a medical exam,' " said Criger.

Family and friends 'reservedly proud'

Once jettisoned from this planet, there is no turning back. The Mars One mission is a life-time commitment.

"To the same degree that I am cautiously optimistic, they are reservedly proud," Criger said of his family and friends after learning he is one step closer to being permanently stationed on Mars.

"I'm sure that there are a few people who are going to miss me if I end up going, but you do get to see each other. It's not as if you are shut off from the world forever. It is at worst a 20 minute video delay," he said.

"My family was mostly worried that Mars One, because it's so unconventional, is maybe less serious than traditional space travel, but I managed to quickly quash that."

"The guy in charge of this whole thing, BasLansdorp, has put a lot of his own reputation and his own personal wealth on the line to make this thing happen. He obviously believes that this is going to work and so I am inclined to follow along," Criger said.

Lansdorp, a Dutch entrepreneur, is the co-founder and CEO of Mars One.

Criger must now undergo a medical examination and submit the results to Mars One's chief medical officer by April before a third stage of the selection process is revealed at a later date.

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