U of L student selected as finalist for Mars One mission - WDRB 41 Louisville News

U of L student selected as finalist for Mars One mission

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A 19-year old University of Louisville student's out-of-this-world dreams may just land her on Mars.

"It's funny because in my bedroom I have a mural of Mars on my wall at my parents' house," said Stephanie Bridges.

As farfetched as it sounds, her wildest dreams may actually come true. 

"I've wanted to go to Mars since I was in elementary school," Bridges said in a submission video for the Mars One initiative to send the first manned mission to the planet.

Now, the 19-year-old is on the short list for candidates.

"It's not so much living on Mars. It's more making the sacrifice for a greater cause," said Bridges. "I see the importance of being part of something bigger than yourself. Just like explorers who came to America. We'd be explorers heading to Mars for humanity."

In a Mars One introduction video, the organization describes its plan: "In 2016, a communication satellite and a supply mission will be sent to Mars; in 2018, a large planetary rover will be sent to Mars."

Mars One is a private Netherlands-based group of scientists who are securing partnerships with leading aerospace companies around the world.

The group is currently on a public donation campaign and big-money backers see dollars in space as NASA scales back its research. For information on how to donate, click here.

"There's potential from wealth in minerals and energy. Exploration is fun and the people funding these projects have the money for fun," said Drew Foster, technical coordinator at U of L's Rauch Planetarium.

The first mission expected to cost $6 billion.

"What I say to people who say it's not going to happen is we have a lot of private sectors in the space industry dedicated to this already on board that have contracts and they're ready to go to  Mars to make the next step," Bridges said.

The company hopes to launch its first group of four people on a one-way ticket to the red planet by 2023, trying to establish permanent life on Mars. 

Bridges isn't packing just yet -- first, she must finish her atmospheric sciences degree at U of L. 

"I'm a nerd about that stuff," said Bridges, who has already beat out 199,000 space enthusiasts to become a finalist.

Mars is actually the next closest planet to Earth, about 100 million miles away, or at least seven months on a fast flight. 

"There is little to no atmosphere there so they have to be in suits they have to take their own water and air with them if anything happens they'll have to have medicine, doctors. There's nothing there livable for a human being on Mars," Foster explained.

While Foster says he believes the flight will happen, he doubts the crew can survive saying that "radiation sickness will set in before they even land. "

Fully aware of the dangers, Bridges says nothing will change her mind.

"I already know if I go to Mars I won't have a family. But that's okay because not everybody is supposed to have a family -- you're supposed to do something with your life."

Because when you wish upon a star, dreams do come true.

Mars One plans to select its first flight crew sometime this year. 

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