When she was 8 years old, Heidi Beemer’s dad gave her a newspaper cutout of the accomplishments of the Sojourner Rover, a robotic Pathfinder rover that landed on Mars July 4, 1997, and explored the surface for about three months.
To most people, the desolate Martian landscape is uninviting, but the rust colored background called out to young 1st Lt. Beemer, now a light decontamination platoon leader in Fort Campbell’s 63rd Chemical Company, 52nd Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal).
“I’ve always known I was put on this Earth to do something special,” said Beemer, a native of Virginia Beach, Va. “To me, Mars is the next frontier.”
Beemer is one of several U.S. service members who applied for the Mars One program, a Netherlands-based nonprofit organization that plans to establish a permanent human settlement on the red planet starting with the launch of the first team of four astronauts April 22, 2022.
The habitat for the first Martians will be sent before the astronauts ever leave Earth. Rovers designed for the mission will scout a suitable location and prepare the habitat, so there will be water and air to breathe when the volunteer colonists arrive on Mars.
The program’s online recruitment, which ended Sept. 5, was open to people from around the world with the only requirements being applicants must be 18 years or older and willing to live the rest of their lives in a habitat on the Martian surface.
The volunteers will have their applications screened by Mars One selection committees to find the most suitable candidates. Qualified applicants will move on to the third round of selections where they will be chosen by national audiences in their countries.
“It excites me to be able to move forward in the process and be one step closer to accomplishing my dreams,” said Beemer. “Now it is time for the best and the brightest applicants to begin emerging from the masses, so the world can begin selecting their candidates for the most important event in human history.”
The estimated 24 to 40 remaining candidates will become employees of Mars One to train for all aspects of the mission as teams of four.
“We are finding the right people for the job. Our medical director assured me that the difficult part is living on a new planet with a small group of people in a dangerous environment and staying friends. It’s the most dangerous part,” said Bas Lansdorp, the founder of Mars One.
The inherent dangers from radiation and near isolation did not deter more than 200,000 applicants ranging from Veterans in the space industry to people fresh out of high school.
A curious and explorative nature and the ability to manage stressful situations, such as emergency response and dealing with large scale projects under tight timelines in extreme climates, led Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class John Revis, a marine science technician, Anchorage, Alaska, to apply for the mission.
To accomplish the mission, Mars One is looking for people who know when to speak and when to listen, when to lead and when to follow, and who just get the job done, said Lansdorp. These abilities are also valued in the military, so the training and experience service members have also makes them suitable applicants.
“I think my training will help Mars One because I have always stressed learning leadership and teamwork,” said 1st Lt. Craig Veilleux, launcher platoon leader, Battery D, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, here. “On the job, I don’t force people to do what I want them to do with the weight of my position, I strive to lead them to complete the mission and better themselves.”
All applicants will have to wait for the selection committee to contact them before they will know if they made the cut for the third round, which may take until the end of the year, according to Mars One.
For more information about Mars One project, go to www.mars-one.com.