Filipina CEO joins ambitious voyage to colonize Mars
Jaymee del Rosario, a Filipina CEO, wants to be Miss Universe—literally—by spending the rest of her living days in Mars.
This became her dream after the California-based businesswoman was chosen among 100 candidates in an ambitious $6-billion program to live in Mars.
The project, founded by Dutch-based startup Mars One, is a one-way ticket, meaning the four persons who will be sent to Mars in 2027 will not be going back home.
The prospect was scary, but exciting, even for someone who did not grow up watching science fiction, Del Rosario said during the Pandesal Forum held at Kamuning Bakery Cafe in Quezon City on Friday.
“Hindi naman ako sci-fi fanatic … When I saw the program, which is to create a human settlement on Mars, I was scared. Everybody is scared. Fear is always tinkering around every day in our lives,” Del Rosario said.
When the selection process started from a list of 200,000 aspirants, Del Rosario said she didn’t think she’d make it at all, especially because she’s competing against people from all over the world distinguished in the field of engineering, law and physics.
But Del Rosario, who started a company in California, International Metal Source, which distributes raw metals and alloys to the aerospace and defense industry, has said her background gave her enough credence to get in the top 100.
She said she got in after a one-on-one video interview with Mars One chief medical director Norbert Kroft.
“I was really excited and really nervous. I was panicking that I’m not going to make it. I’m competing with doctors, lawyers, military, and judge,” she said.
Del Rosario said Mars One did not assure their safety in this ambitious mission, which is set to be recorded on a daily basis and made into a reality TV show, the likes of the hit “Big Brother.”
“They can’t assure you it’s safe, that ‘Oh, you’re going to be in a 101 percent safe rocket.’ Nobody can say that. That’s because it’s a very hard job,” Del Rosario said.
“Mars One didn’t tell you, you’re not going to die. It’s, do you want to go?”
Del Rosario said if she was lucky to be chosen as one of the final four to go to Mars, she would live in livable hubs in the desolate terrain of the Red Planet with only four people for the next two years.
She said these hubs would be equipped with a supply of oxygen and would use the local water soil to generate potable water.
Mars One would then send four more people every two years to eventually form a colony.
Del Rosario said she got in the first 100 after going through a one-on-one interview with Mars One and submitting a medical certificate that she was fit to go to space.
If she gets in the list of the next 40 candidates set to be released in September, she and the other finalists will be placed in isolation for 90 days to prepare them for the harsh desolate space in Mars.
Asked whether or not technology now is advanced enough to allow life in Mars, Del Rosario said a lot could happen in a decade of developing space technology before 2027, when the final voyage to Mars would happen.
“(When we’re there), every now and then they’ll be launching rockets for two people. So we would only be four persons for two years there. That’s the goal, but nothing is set in stone,” she said.
Once they’re there, their only task is to survive the harsh environment—and each other—to start a colony in Mars.
“We’ll be there forever,” Del Rosario said.
Science or publicity?
Still, since it was conceptualized in 2012, the Mars One project drew criticism and speculation if it could pull off such an ambitious journey.
With its mission even surpassing the capabilities of Nasa itself, the project was criticized as a mere publicity ploy, with candidates getting in the cream of the crop by donating larger sums of money.
Joseph Roche, one of those shortlisted, wrote in The Guardian that Mars One is a profiteering ploy, and that the top 10 candidates got in the leading shortlist based on “supporter points” which one gets based on donations and purchases of Mars One merchandise.
The Medium also published a story questioning the feasibility of the ambitious mission, featuring its exclusive interview with Roche.
Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp in a statement on its website has denied the allegation, saying some finalists got in even without hefty donations.
Roche also cited another study done by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that humans in the ambitious mission can only survive Mars for 68 days.
The 2014 report particularly said the Mars One mission was bound to fail based on the formula required for the voyage.
“The first crew fatality would occur approximately 68 days into the mission,” according to the report which studied the formulas on oxygen, food and technology required for the project, AFP reported.
The report said oxygen levels would start to deplete after two months, and that there was still no technology to allow permanent settlement in Mars.
The MIT report said the plants the participants would cultivate to feed the space colony would produce “unsafe” amounts of oxygen. “Some form of oxygen removal system is required, a technology that has not yet been developed for space flight,” the study said.
Still, Del Rosario is unfazed.
Asked about the prospect of death, Del Rosario said it would be an honorable way to sacrifice a life if only to fulfill the ultimate voyage to space.
She said the project may start future prospects of studying life outside Earth, which would benefit not only the next generations but also our own planet itself, which struggles from climate change, overpopulation and pollution.
“Everybody has that fear … We’re all scared of death. But to me, it’s not suicidal. At least this is what you want to do, this is your dream. If you’re going to exit that way, it’s very fulfilling, because it’s your dream, it’s for humanity,” Del Rosario said.
Asked how she has talked about her dream to go to Mars with her boyfriend, Del Rosario said in jest that he even vowed to build a rocket ship to visit her in space.
She rode on a quip raised during the forum that she, good-looking at age 27, was willing to take on the literal role of Miss Universe.
“I’m a certified astronaut Miss Universe!” Del Rosario said.
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