A 31-year-old Manitoba woman is willing to give up life on Earth for a one-way ticket to Mars.
Mission to Mars
Julie Perreault, who is from Ste-Geneviève, just southeast of Winnipeg, is the only Manitoban to make the short list for Mars One — a project aiming to set up a permanent human colony on the Red Planet.
"For the first 20 minutes, you know, I was pretty happy, I'm feeling good about myself. Then it hit me, kind of what that really meant," she said.
The search for Astronauts began in April 2013 and more than 200,000 people from around the world submitted video applications. The cut is now down to 1,058 with 75 Canadians among them.
The final cut will be 24 and the goal of Mars One is to have crews of four, departing every two years, starting in 2024.
Perreault said she was prompted to apply for the project out of fear — a fear of not trying things.
"I like to challenge myself and not let fear stop me from doing what I want to do," she said.
So what’s next for the present Mars hopefuls?
“The next several selection phases in 2014 and 2015 will include rigorous simulations, many in team settings, with focus on testing the physical and emotional capabilities of our remaining candidates," said Norbert Kraft, chief medical officer of Mars One.
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Perreault said she might not necessarily have the technical skills and knowledge right now to be part of a new planetary settlement, but her love of learning will help push her to that end.
"We expect to begin understanding what is motivating our candidates to take this giant leap for humankind. This is where it really gets exciting for Mars One, our applicants, and the communities they’re a part of.”
'I might have an advantage over people who are used to a warmer climate, but I've also heard that it gets way colder on Mars, so, I don't know' - Julie Perreault
Being from Manitoba, where the frigid temperatures can sometimes compete with temperatures on Mars, could also give her an edge, she joked.
"I might have an advantage over people who are used to a warmer climate, but I've also heard that it gets way colder on Mars, so, I don't know," she said.
The Mars One group's first voyage is scheduled to be an unmanned trip in 2018. That will be followed by cargo missions and unmanned preparation of a habitable settlement, according to the group's website.
The organization said it has agreements with aerospace titan Lockheed Martin as well as satellite company Surrey Satellite Technology to develop mission plans for the 2018 mission.
Mars One has several sponsors, is selling merchandise, and has also launched a crowd-funding campaign in order to pay for its missions.
Mars One estimates the cost of putting the first four people on Mars at $6 billion, which includes the cargo. For every next manned mission, Mars One estimates the costs at $4 billion.