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Student on a mission to Mars

Student on a mission to Mars

Aiming high: Merlijn Fuhrop

High achieving Victoria University of Wellington student Merlijn Führhop is one step closer to his dream of being among the first humans to set foot on Mars.

The Bachelor of Science student is through to the second round of the Mars One astronaut selection process from an original pool of over 200,000 applicants. He is one of only 418 men and 287 women to be interviewed by the selection committee.

Mars One is a Netherlands-based organisation aiming to establish a permanent human settlement on the planet by 2025, starting with four people. Every two years after that, new people will join the endeavour.

Merlijn, who spent three years travelling from The Netherlands to New Zealand on a sailing yacht with his family, is no stranger to confinement and undaunted by the prospect of a 300 million-mile, seven month journey from Earth to Mars. “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,” he says.

“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.”

In his online profile ( the 19-year-old physics student says he likes video games, watching television shows and movies, and playing soccer and the piano.

“I didn’t think I’d get through the first round, but then I did. At that stage I thought wow, this could actually happen. It was a bit to get used to.”

The mission requires astronauts to undergo eight years of training, including isolation from the world in groups of four in simulation facilities, to learn how they respond to living in close quarters and away from other people.

“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.”


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