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New Zealand Science Teacher

Science Curriculum/Scientific Literacy

Mars One explorer ready to go

Wellington student has survived the first round of an astronaut selection process.

Merlijn Führhop is one step closer to a lifelong dream.

The Victoria University of Wellington student is through to the second round of the Mars One astronaut selection process, from an original pool of more than 200,000 applicants.

Merlijn is one of only 418 men and 287 women to be interviewed for the selection process, and if successful, would be required to undergo eight years of training, including isolation from the world in groups of four in simulation facilities.

Travelling from Earth to Mars would involve a 300 million mile, seven-month journey, but that doesn’t put Merlijn off.

He once spent three years travelling across the world on a yacht with his family, and says he’s not afraid of long periods in cramped quarters.

“It would be very boring and cramped. I’m not scared – a little apprehensive as I’m not sure what to expect, but mostly, I’m excited,” he says.

“The Mars One project is the next big step for mankind and it would be great if I could be part of that. It would be life fulfilling.”

Mars One is a Netherlands-based organisation aiming to establish a permanent human settlement on the planet by 2025, starting with four people. Every two years after that, new people will join the endeavour.

The reality of leaving Earth is not something that frightens Merlijn.

“You’re giving up life on Earth, but you get a life on Mars. You’ll still be alive, eat food, play games. It’s not going to change who you are. It’s just living somewhere else, forever. That’s how I see it. Life just goes on.”

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