Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brother also considered mission to Mars

Admires his sister's 'exploratory spirit'

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BRANDON -- Despite the worry a one-way trip to Mars "would be a death sentence," the brother of a Winnipeg woman who is hoping to get to the red planet says he thought about applying himself for the journey.

The only Manitoban in the running to receive a one-way ticket to Mars will be leaving behind her brother in Brandon.

Julie Perreault, 31, of Ste. Geneviève just outside of Winnipeg, is one of the 1,058 applicants -- including 75 Canadians -- to be chosen by the Mars One project committee, which has the audacious goal of establishing a colony on the red planet by 2025.

"There's is a sense that leaving today for Mars would be a death sentence in a way," said her brother, Maurice Perreault, "but they have a decade of training ahead of them."

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While he said there is a slight lingering feeling the project is an "elaborate con," he even flirted with the idea of applying himself when Julie made the announcement she was applying.

When Julie made the declaration to her family, Maurice said he wasn't at all surprised. Spelunking, exploring and "experiencing new things" were all interests she included in her application.

"She's always had an exploratory spirit," Maurice said. "If she's one of the ones who are chosen, she's doing something she really wants to do and I'll be proud of her."

Julie will be giving up earth's outdoor environment she has grown to love to explore, Maurice added.

"When she puts her suit on for launch, that might be the last time she feels natural wind on her skin," he said, since the Mars-bound humans will be isolated in a man-made habitat.

After the committee made its latest cuts, Maurice said he brought up some concerns of his own, one of which being if Julie has children in the next 10 years prior to the tentative launch date, she will be abandoning them.

He said the Mars One project would discourage people from having children on Mars during the beginning period of settling on the red planet to avoid any additional complications to the small community.

Perreault, a self-confessed "lifelong" science fiction fan, submitted her online application to the committee last year. She received confirmation she was one of the chosen few on Dec. 30.

Mars One is being described as a "one-way mission," although it will include an infrastructure that includes living quarters, communications systems to Earth and a water supply.

Mars One is a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands which received more than 200,000 applications for the journey, including 8,243 from Canada. The Canadian applicants accepted include 43 women and 32 men.

The plan is for a crew of four to depart every two years starting in 2024, with the first group arriving in 2025.

The next step for applicants is to acquire medical, physical and mental clearances.

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 20, 2014 B2

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