An Ontario woman who made the exclusive short list for a one-way trip to Mars says she nearly fell off her chair when she found out she was a finalist for the journey of a lifetime.

“It has all the elements of the greatest story ever told,” said Karen Cumming, a 53-year-old educator and former TV broadcaster who lives in Burlington, Ont.

“I’m someone who wants to go on the greatest adventure of all time. It’s perfect.”

Cumming and five other Canadians are among 100 people from around the world shortlisted for the Mars One mission. The Netherlands-based organization is looking to establish a human colony on the Red Planet, beginning in 2024.  

Mars One initially received more than 200,000 applicants worldwide, of which approximately 8,243 were Canadians.

The candidate pool has now been whittled down to 100, as the selection process moves into the next phase.

The project has continued to generate attention, despite a study by MIT researchers that looked at potentially fatal flaws in the plan, like a fragile food supply and a dangerous proximity to high levels of oxygen.

Cumming said she recognizes the dangers of Mars One, but trusts the visionaries behind the project.

“They’re not planning a church bake sale,” she told CTV Toronto. “These people were working on this for years; they have people with NASA backgrounds who are on their board of directors.

“They’ve got some really smart people who’ve been working long and hard on this.”

The other Canadians still in the running are:

  • Daniel Benjamin Criger, 28, Waterloo, Ont.
  • Reginald George Foulds, 60, Toronto
  • Andreea Lavinia Radulescu, 33, Toronto
  • Joanna Marjorie Hindle, 42 Whistler, B.C.
  • Susan Higashio Weinreich, 42, Vancouver

“Nobody wants to be the person who dropped out because they were too cynical,” Daniel Criger told CTV Toronto. “So if there’s even the remotest chance that it’s going to happen, I’m going to give it my all.”

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Janice Golding