Austinite Sonia Van Meter’s head has always been in the clouds. Come 2024, the rest of her just might be following along.
Meter is one of just over 700 people who have made the final rounds of an intensive, global search for the first Mars colonists. A Dutch non-profit called Mars One aims to establish permanent colonies on Mars by 2024, and they’ve eliminated over 190,000 candidates so far.
But how does her husband, Jason Stanford, feel about it? “Like any good red-blooded American male, at first I thought this was all about me,” he recently told the BBC. “I thought: you’re leaving me.”
He eventually came around though. “The more she talked about it, the more I realised she was doing this for the right reasons – she was doing this to show humanity what we can all do if we work together,” he reportedly said. “I’ll be Mr Sonia Van Meter for the rest of my life, showing up to cut the ribbon at Sonia Van Meter High School and telling her story here on Earth.”
The pool of potential Martian colonists is now down to just 705 people, according to the Mars One website. As the mission date approaches, Mars One will be subjecting the aspiring astronauts to an intense training regiment and battery of tests, all of which will be filmed by Darlow Smithson Productions. Teams and individuals will be eliminated, “Survivor” style, for failures during the preparation process until there are only a handful remaining.
Once a stable living environment has been established remotely and communications satellites are in orbit, four people will be chosen to make the 300-million-mile journey to the red planet. Additional teams of four people each will follow every two years.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity to become part of a legacy stretching from Magellan and Christopher Columbus all the way to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Alderan,” Meter told Austin NBC affiliate KXAN-TV during an interview earlier this year. “Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”
Watch KXAN’s segment below: