Mackay man takes one small step in journey to Mars
OVER the moon is is how former Mackay resident Paul Leeming described how he felt after learning he had made it through to round two for a one-way trip to Mars.
Mr Leeming, 40, applied for the Mars One program last year, hoping to be selected to join a group of aspiring astronauts who will attempt to set up a colony on Mars in 2018.
Mr Leeming, who works as a science fiction film director in Tokyo, said he found out he'd made it through the first stage of the program on New Year's Eve.
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"Given my experience of having been an air force pilot trainee, I know that this is just the next stage in a long process with many stages to go.
"So while I'm of course very happy, I'm also focused on what comes next and how best to keep the momentum going."
He said the next stage of the Mars One process included a medical assessment.
"Marrying the technical requirements with a reality TV show is a fairly unique way of launching a mission of this kind, so there is understandably lots of scepticism, so it falls on us applicants to help sell the program and help people to comprehend how it is going to work.
"Round three is interviews… round four is narrowing of the selection pool… through simulations and testing… down to a final 50 or so."
He said his family, who live in Mackay, was "happy and okay" with sending a beloved son and brother on a one-way trip to space.
"My brother joked that he gets to live out every younger brother's dream of sending their older brother to another planet.
"I can only hope to make his wishes come true."
Mr Leeming said the 1058 applicants who had made it through to round two of the program were a "diverse and eclectic" mix, made up of people from all over the world.