Edmonton woman closer to life-long dream of living on Mars
Published Monday, January 6, 2014 9:18AM EST
An Edmonton woman is one step closer to fulfilling a life-long dream of living on Mars.
Christy Foley, a strategic planner with the Alberta Ministry of Environment, is one of 1,058 candidates who have been shortlisted for a one-way ticket to the Red Planet to take part in the Mars One project.
More than 200,000 people from around the world applied for the privately funded project that seeks to set up a permanent human colony on Mars starting in 2024. Foley is one of 75 Canadians who made it past the first round of the selection process.
She told CTV's Canada AM that her childhood fascination with space, coupled with a one-time meeting with a Canadian astronaut, fuelled her desire to reach Mars.
"I've grown up star-gazing and watching sci-fi…I met Roberta Bondar," she said. "These all add to my desire to take the next step forward and colonize Mars."
But Foley will be taking that next step by herself as her husband, who also applied, didn't make the first cut.
While it was initially hard for her to accept, Foley said she has her husband's full support.
"This dream is so much bigger than one relationship. He recognizes that and he wants to help me reach the stars," she said, adding that he is planning on reapplying in the summer and may still be eligible for the mission.
"He doesn't want to anchor me to the Earth… When he said that, it made my heart flutter."
As she proceeds to the second round of the selection process, Foley will face an interview by the Mars One selection committee as well as a medical examination.
There are four selection rounds in total, with the third and fourth rounds being open to a public vote.
Mars One Chief Medical Officer Norbert Kraft said in a statement released in late December that the next 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.
"We expect to begin understanding what is motivating our candidates to take this giant leap for humankind."
Once underway, the Mars One mission will begin sending groups of four to Mars to begin populating the planet.
Foley said she believes she made it to the second round thanks in part to her experience volunteering with the Girl Guides of Canada.
"They're very keen on the human aspects, because you're going to be stuck with three other people for three years before more people arrive. So group cohesion is very important," she said.
Project seeking funding through sponsors, broadcasting rights
Mars One estimates that sending the first group to Mars will cost US$6 billion, with each subsequent mission costing $4 billion.
The project's organizers are looking to fund the missions through a mix of sponsorships, donations, crowdfunding and the sale of broadcasting rights.
There are plans to broadcast the third and fourth rounds of the selection process in a reality TV-style show. During these rounds, applicants will compete in a series of challenges to show they are fit for the mission and audience members will vote for their favourites.
Mars One is a non-profit foundation founded by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp.