A St-Bruno man is one step closer to another giant leap for mankind.
Claude-Michel Laroche is one of 700 people vying for a spot in the $6-billion Mars One mission that hopes to establish a human colony of 24 people on the red planet 10 years from now.
More than 200,000 hopefuls applied to be part of Mars One and that number has now been narrowed to 700 people, including Laroche.
“I always wanted to be an astronaut,” Laroche told CBC News.
Laroche studied applied physics at École Polytechnique de Montréal and in 2012 attended the International Space University's Space Studies Program.
He now works as a technical inspector with Industry Canada.
Mars One is spearheaded by a Dutch not-for-profit foundation and funded primarily by sponsors. According to the project’s website, those chosen to be part of the human settlement on Mars will undergo eight years of training designed to test their endurance and ability to live together in confined spaces.
On top of physical and mental fitness, those selected must prove themselves capable of performing repairs to the physical and electrical structures of the settlement, cultivating crops indoors and dealing with medical issues including “dental upkeep, muscle tears and bone fractures.”
As it's now envisioned, participants in the mission will live out their remaining days in a group of connected life-support units. There is no return trip to Earth, which is a seven to eight month journey away.
Laroche sees Mars One as a mission of discovery, and the thrill of being among the first humans to set foot on another planet is worth it.
“We discover new continents. We went to a moon. But we never went to a different planet."
As to the rigours of life on Mars, Laroche says he's ready for them.
"You're going to have to go out with a mask, like the full suit combination. It's going to very cold. Like the average temperature on Mars is worse than the worst winter days in Canada," he told CBC News.
Laroche has already passed a physical exam and will be interviewed by the mission’s selection committee this summer.
Mars One is scheduled for lift-off in 2024.