Island woman one step closer to Mars

TC Media
Published on May 6, 2014

Trish Woodford, a native of P.E.I., is among only 75 Canadians reaching the next round of selections for a planned one-way mission to Mars.

Charlottetown-native Trish Woodford says she expected to make the latest cut for a planned one-way trip to Mars.

Last week, Woodford learned she is among the remaining 54 Canadians in the running as Mars One pared down its list of potential worldwide candidates.

“So I made it through,’’ she said in a telephone interview Tuesday from Toronto, where she works as a prosecutor with the city.

“Well, it’s great. It’s exciting – a little nerve wracking.’’

The Dutch-based non-profit organization said 705 people still remain in contention and will be subject to an interview by the Mars One selection committee.

Woodford, 30, says she is “nervous and excited’’ for the face-to-face interview expected to take place in the coming weeks.

She had been anxiously awaiting word on the latest cut, conducting a number of media interviews and even doing a short documentary over the past three and a half months.

“So it’s definitely been a part of my day-to-day life…but I wouldn’t say I’ve been utterly consumed by it,’’ she says.

Her parents, Fred and Paula Mullen of Dunstaffnage, sat in stunned silence when they first learned in January that Woodford was a potential candidate for a one-way ticket to the red planet.

Woodford’s mother was impressed but noted she would be “heartbroken’’ if her girl actually took off for Mars.

Dad exclaimed at the time: “So you want to go to Mars and never come back?’’

Woodford says her parents remained fairly consistent in their reaction last week to learning she had moved a step closer to her out-of-this world goal.

Woodford, on the other hand, remains as committed – and enthusiastic – as ever at the prospect of taking off.

The Mars One project, an ambitious plan to establish a permanent human settlement on the planet beginning in 2025, is the brainchild of Dutch entrepreneur Bas Landorp.

The $6 billion project calls for the use of existing technology and will be funded through sponsors and private investors.

The organization has said that primary funding will come from a “global media event” that will document the astronauts and their preparation.

The 54 Canadians remaining are divided equally between male and female candidates.

 Initially, Mars One had an applicant pool of more than 200,000 from 100 countries, with 8,243 Canadians applying.

Last December, the organization reduced that number to 1,058 candidates, including 75 Canadians, who were asked to provide medical and personal information.

One-third of those potential Mars settlers were eliminated, leaving the current crop of 705 candidates from around the world.

The majority of the remaining 54 Canadian hopefuls are, like Woodford, from the Toronto region, but there’s also a large contingent from British Columbia. Alberta and Quebec are next on the list, but other provinces also boast candidates.

After the interview round, candidates will be narrowed down to several international teams consisting of two women and two men, who will take part in an extensive training program.

The current plan is for a crew of four to depart every two years starting in 2024, with the first groups arriving in 2025.

On its website, the Mars One group says the first four settlers would be followed by more groups, every two years.

At first, the home base would be limited to provisions, oxygen and water, but would eventually expand to everything the settlers might need, including solar panels.