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Going where no one has gone before

Marina Miral hopes to be chosen to land on Mars. - Pirjo Raits
Marina Miral hopes to be chosen to land on Mars.
— image credit: Pirjo Raits

Marina Miral feels, in some way, that she was born in the wrong century. She has an adventurous outlook and would have been an explorer and early settler in the New World if she had been born in another time and place.

The spirit is there and so is her determination to become a space age explorer. Miral has been short listed as one of 1,058 potential astronauts who may eventually land on Mars and live in a permanent human colony — never to return to Earth.

Mars One is a non-profit organization led by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp. He announced the private spaceflight project in May 2012 and screened 200,000 applications. East Sooke resident Marina Miral is one of the chosen ones. Her application process involved a video and essays on why she wanted to land on Mars and why she was right for the project.

Miral is 30-years-old and is determined and excited about the possibility of writing about and filming life on Mars.

“It’s something inside, something I’ve always wanted to do… I’ve always been interested in space, science fiction and I watched a lot of Star Trek, that was the start of my dream,” said Miral. “I never thought I would have the opportunity to do that, I’m thankful and if I don’t go I’m still thankful.”

Miral is an independent, free-thinker and a modern day explorer. She has lived in many places in British Columbia and loves spending time in uncrowded places and seeks her solitude along paths less travelled. She doesn’t want children and is committed to pursuing this journey on the red planet.

When Miral was very young she always felt science fiction was more real than fiction. She said she was disappointed when she was older that the world wasn’t like that and now that it is starting she is even more excited.

“Basically we would build a life up there and explore a new world,” she said. “My parents are really excited for me and support me. This is the last frontier and that’s so exciting.”

The idea of never returning home is not scaring Miral, she feels the experience will outweigh it and going to space is “absolutely worth it.”

The candidates will spend at least 10 years training for the Mars landing sometime in 2025.

“The idea is to get people prepared to stay there forever, I’m completely committed,” said Miral.

Miral would be leaving behind her siblings and parents. She has two sisters and a brother and only the younger sister is sad about it. Her mother Angela Dorsey is behind Marina 100 per cent.

“The whole program in general is amazing,” said Dorsey. “It’s one of those things…  I don’t want her to leave but it’s an amazing opportunity to make history. I wouldn’t dream of discouraging her, the potential is so big.”

She said that Marina wanting to do this is not surprising to her at all.

“She’s always been a true adventurer, she was born a century or two too late to do it in this world.”

Miral has always envied people who settled first in the New World and said that this Mars mission is “even cooler.”

There are many years ahead of her before the chance comes to land on Mars and she is prepared to train as needed. The Mars One website states that before they leave the Earth’s atmosphere to travel to Mars, each astronaut will be put through the required eight years of training. They will be isolated from the world for a few months every two years in groups of four in simulation facilities, to learn how they respond to living in close quarters while isolated from all humans except for the three crew members. In addition to the expertise and work experience they must already possess, they have to learn quite a few new skills: physical and electrical repairs, cultivating crops in confined spaces, and addressing both routine and serious medical issues.  (See more at: http://www.mars-one.com/mission/humankind-on-mars).

“I’ve always loved living in tiny spaces and I don’t want things,” said Miral.

Dorsey said a lot of people don’t understand Marina but stated her daughter is very enthusiastic, polite and kind.

“People think I’m nuts and I don’t blame them,” said Miral. “I want people to know that some people are trying to protect us as naive applicants. It’s not like that, I have an inner drive to explore and sacrifice. I would like people to support the mission and not attack it. Everybody is different and I’m willing to put everything on the line for an opportunity to go to Mars.”

So whether or not Miral gets chosen to land on Mars 10 years from now, she isn’t giving up on dreams of adventures and travel. As an alternative to colonizing Mars, she said she would like to get a sailboat and sail off on the seven seas.

Mars One is destined to become a reality show at a cost of $6 billion.

“How many people do you think would want to watch the first humans arrive on Mars?” Lansdorp asked in a recent interview.

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