On a one-way mission to Mars

INTO SPACE:  Merlijn Fuhrhop  is excited that he may be among the first people on Mars.
INTO SPACE: Merlijn Fuhrhop is excited that he may be among the first people on Mars.

It will be boring, cramped and he will never see family and friends again yet Merlijn Fuhrhop  is excited that he may be among the first people on Mars.

The 19-year-old Victoria University student has made it to round two of Mars One, a Netherlands-based programme aiming to establish a permanent human settlement on the red planet by 2025.

The first, unmanned mission is expected to head to the red planet in 2018, and the first group of four people leaving Earth in 2024, with new groups of four leaving every two years.

Fuhrhop hopes to make it on the first, history-making, mission.
From 200,000 applicants who first applied, 1058 applicants made it through the first cut.

This has now been cut down to 635 -  287 woman and 418 men, one of which is Fuhrhop.

''It would be very boring and cramped. I'm not scared, a little apprehensive as I'm not sure what to expect, but mostly I'm excited.''

''The Mars One project is the next big step for mankind and I think it would be great if I could be part of that. It would be life fulfilling.''
Between the ages of 10 and 13, Fuhrhop spent three years with his family sailing from  The Netherlands to

New Zealand on a yacht, which he said made him familiar with confinement - an issue he would have  to deal with on the seven month journey from Earth to Mars.

There is no returned journey plan, meaning he would never see if parents again if he made the final cut.

''They weren't happy about the idea but they could kind of see why I would want to do it.''

''You're giving up life on Earth, but you get a life on Mars. You'll still be alive, eat food, play games. It's not going to change who you are, it's just living somewhere else, forever.

''That's how I see it. Life just goes on.''

If he does make the final cut, he will have to undergo eight years of training, which includes isolation training.

He would also have to face the dangers of space travel, followed by the rigours of building a new colony on an inhospitable planet, then living in a confined environment.

''It's a bit hard to imagine what life would be like on Mars. That is the whole reason I am doing it - to experience the unknown.''

The Dominion Post