RENO — Reno’s Kay Radzik Warren is one step closer to taking one giant red leap for mankind.
She recently learned she’s is one of 100 people worldwide still in the running to be part of the Mars One Project, a nonprofit foundation that plans to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.
Yes, that Mars.
The red planet.
The fourth rock from the sun, spinning 249 million miles from Earth.
Mars One, the privately funded mission to Mars, has selected 100 candidates. As many as 40 will be selected for the mission, if it ever happens.
“It’s a dream-come-true to be this much closer to being a part of what’s to be a growing settlement on Mars,” Radzik Warren said. “It has always been a goal to make a difference, to be part of the difference. It’s a truly exciting time.”
Radzik Warren, a 54-year-old architectural project manager, has already weathered two cuts in the Mars One Project. The project’s Astronaut Selection Process, started in 2013 and received applications from 202,586 people from around the world, including Warren.
That initial field was winnowed in 2014 to 660 potential candidates. Over the past several months, each of them participated in personal online interviews with Dr. Norbert Kraft, the chief medical officer of the Mars One Project. During the interviews, the candidates had a chance to show their understanding of the risks involved, team spirit and their motivation to be part of the expedition.
“We were impressed with how many strong candidates participated in the interview round, which made it a very difficult selection,” Kraft said in a statement.
From those medical interviews, 50 men and 50 women, were selected to move on to the third round of the selection process. The candidates come from all around the world, including 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa and 7 from Oceania.
The next step in the process focus on composing teams of potential astronauts, who will have their first shot at training in a replica of the planned Mars Outpost.
“Being one of the best individual candidates does not automatically make you the greatest team player, so I look forward to seeing how the candidates progress and work together in the upcoming challenges,” Kraft said.
Radzik Warren believes she has all the tools, mentally, physically and otherwise to make the final cut and to be a part of the team of four astronauts that will depart for Mars in 2024 (arriving in 2025).
“I’m very adaptable and I’m very resilient,” she said. “I’m an adventuress. I don’t have a problem with this (Mars mission). I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from family and friends. A lot of them said, ‘I’d never do this, but you’d be perfect for it.’ I’m open to new things and I’m curious by nature.”
An Army brat, Radzik Warren was born in Japan. She grew up in Southern California and earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She also studied architecture for a year in Australia, lived in Seattle and has driven cross country multiple times.
She has lived in Reno since 1998. She is married and said her husband is fully supportive of her quest to be a space pioneer.
Her fascination with space and space travel started at an early age.
“My mom was and is a dedicated fan of astronomy and science fact/fiction, and is a very influential part of my life,” she said. “I developed early an appreciation and fascination for nature and its expansiveness.”
Several unmanned missions are part of the Mars One project’s timeline, as equipment including a communications satellite will be sent up well before the first four-person crew departs for the red planet.
Additional four-person teams will depart every two years after the first team goes.
Colonists will be able to communicate with people on Earth, but at this point, it’s a one-way trip. In an earlier interview with the RGJ, Radzik Warren said she’s prepared for that.
“I have agreed, in my mind, to never coming back,” she said. “However, technology is growing in leaps and bounds. Who is to say that 10 years after first colony there isn’t going to be a way to go to Mars and back again?”
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com