NM man in the running for Mission to Mars

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — A University of New Mexico student is in the running to be part of a manned mission to Mars.

Zachary Gallegos, 26, was one of more than 200,000 candidates to apply for the mission last year.

Now, the UNM planetary science graduate student has made it into the second round, along with about 1,000 others.

The non-profit group Mars One hopes to send crews of four to mars every two years, starting as early as 2024.

Mars One notified Gallegos via email that he has made it to the next round.

“I was very happy,” he said. “It became real at that point.”

His family is supportive, but not exactly excited.

“They are all a little hesitant,” Gallegos said.

That is because this would be a one-way ticket to Mars to establish a permanent settlement.

“It does make me nervous, and it is a little bit scary,” Gallegos said. “The one thing I have thought about is never seeing open air again because you’ll either be in a capsule or in a space suit.”

But he says it would be worth it. Lately, all he has been thinking about is that moment he takes off into space.

“That is the point of no return right there. That is when the decision is made,” Gallegos said.

He said since making it to round two, he has had a medical examination to show he is fit for the mission.

Training for selected candidates could begin next year.

The website for the Mars One mission says it will cost $6 billion to establish a colony on Mars using robots and then get the first crew there by 2025.

The Dutch-based group hopes to fund it all through donations and sponsorships.

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