Trish Woodford, a native of P.E.I., is among only 75 Canadians reaching the next round of selections for a planned one-way mission to Mars.
Trish Woodford among dozens of Canadians in running for one-way trip to the red planet
Trish Woodford didn't rush to tell her parents about a possible trip that would take her rather far from home -- roughly 50 million kilometres or so, in fact.
She thought better to wait until learning whether she had made it closer to the mind-boggling event before passing along the Earth-shattering news to Fred and Paula Mullen of Dunstaffnage.
The response, at first, to learning their girl was among dozens of Canadians reaching the next round of selections for a planned one-way mission to Mars was stunned silence.
They both then cracked a smile.
Mom was impressed but noted she would be "heartbroken'' if Woodford actually took off for the red planet.
Dad exclaimed: "So you want to go to Mars and never come back?''
Yes, that is definitely what the 29-year-old prosecutor for the City of Toronto wants.
Woodford was, one might say, over the moon when she got word on Dec. 30 that she is one step closer to the possibility of being among the first humans to ever set foot on Mars.
"There was shock and there was excitement but also a sense of humility,'' she says of realizing her chance has improved to be among one of the crews of four that will depart every two years starting in 2024, with the first group arriving in 2025 to set up a human colony on Martian soil.
Woodford wants to be part of Mars One, a non-profit organization based in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, because she believes the mission promises to be fascinating and groundbreaking.
"I think the clues to our existence lie outside the Earth,'' she says. "It's a step towards greater exploration.''
When Woodford first joined a worldwide applicant pool of more than 200,000, with 8,243 applications from Canadians, she didn't really weigh how the decision would impact people close to her if she was given the nod.
She learned last month there was great angst, but also strong support, from family towards the prospect of Woodford one day taking off for good from her home planet.
"Ultimately, my parents have always been incredibly supportive,'' she says.
"They have encouraged me to pursue my dreams.''
All candidates now have until mid-March to provide a health certificate from a doctor. After that's done, regional selections will be made during a third round which should follow later this year.
Woodford, of course, hopes to fare well in the complete physical and psychological evaluation to be done by her own family doctor.
She has already been through what she calls a "major physical transformation'' in losing 125 pounds over the past year and a half through exercise and changes to diet.
Today, Woodford, who stands five feet and two inches tall, weighs 110 pounds. She doesn't own a car. She walks everywhere.
Woodford attributes being psychologically strong to her personality. She has learned that she has a much lower level of anxiety than the average person.
"So I am not someone who easily becomes anxious,'' she says.
"It sort of makes me suited for a mission like this.''
And what a mission. Just getting there is a mind-boggling undertaking.
The flight will take between seven to eight months (depending upon the relative positions of the Earth and Mars), according to the Mars One website. The astronauts will spend those seven months together in a very small space -- much smaller than the home base at the settlement on Mars -- devoid of luxury or frills.
Woodford says she is willing to make whatever sacrifices are needed. She is ready to give up her life on Earth -- and even risk her life -- to be part of Mars One.
"Life is not measured by how long you live but what you do with your life,'' she says.
"This is an opportunity to do something extraordinary. This is worth the risk.''