A Saskatoon man wants to be one of the first people to walk on the surface of the planet Mars.

Justin Semenoff has applied to join the Mars One project.

The privately-funded space program plans to send 24 astronauts to the Red Planet starting in 2023.

He admits leaving his family behind, including his 13 year old son would be difficult. But he says the chance to walk on Mars makes all those sacrifices worth it.

"A lot of people have asked why would you leave your family, why would you be going for such a crazy mission?" he said. "I think the focus should be look at the things we could achieve, look at the things we have to gain."

Once they arrive on Mars, the astronauts plan to set up a colony on the planet.

There is a catch. Once they're on the planet, there's no going back. All of the astronauts will stay on Mars for the rest of their lives.

However, Semenoff isn't daunted by the idea of never coming back to Earth.

"Look at our ancestors coming over from Europe to here that was essentially a one-way voyage. If you take Columbus or the Vikings, there was no certainty that they were coming back."

The 34-year-old is up against some stiff competition. Almost 80 thousand people from around the world have applied so far, with many more waiting in the wings.

He said his experience as an army combat engineer in the Canadian Forces, as well as his experience as a welder and blacksmith shouldn't be discounted.

"I don't have a PhD, I don't have the education you might think an astronaut might need, but I've got a realistic point of view," he said. I've got definite assets and skill sets that maybe astronauts or other people don't have."

If Semenoff makes it through the first round, he may be selected to compete on a reality show, where the top contestants will be chosen.

He'll find out if he made it to the first round this fall.