Middle-class French woman Florence Porcel has signed up to settle on Mars, even after knowing that there is no option to return. Ms. Porcel told AFP that she feels a bit cramped on Earth. The 30-year old Parisian woman, a journalist by profession, is a self-confessed space junkie.

Florence Porcel Mars

Will Florence make it to Mars?

Porcel is one of the 200,000 people around the world who volunteered for the extraordinary Mars project. The Mars One mission aims to send 24 pioneers to the Red Planet in 2024. Mars is about 34 million miles away from the Earth, and it’s extremely dry, cold and oxygen-less. The cost of the project is estimated at $6 billion, but it doesn’t include the option of a return trip. It will largely be funded by a 10-year long reality TV show about the project. The final 24 explorers, who agree not to return to Earth, will be sent in six separate launches in 2024.

The Dutch non-profit group that is backing the mission’s shortlisted 1,058 candidates from 140 countries on December 30 in the first round of the selection process. The candidates were given an extensive online questionnaire to assess their abilities. The selection criteria includes “a good sense of play”, “an indomitable spirit” and “good judgement.” The explorers must be drug-free, disease-free and English speaking.

Nobel prize winner supports Mars One project

Dozens of technological problems stand in the way of sending humans to Mars. Many scientists have questioned the project’s feasibility. It’s still a big question if participants can survive environmental demand and physical perils on a planet which absolutely lacks oxygen. But Gerard ‘t Hooft, a Dutch scientist who won the Nobel Prize in physics, supports the Mars One project.

Florence Porcel says she is realistic about the challenges.

When asked why she wants to go to Mars, Porcel said she wants to find out answers to some of humanity’s basic questions: why we are on Earth, who we are, why we are alive and why the Solar System exists.

Ms. Porcel has to wait at least 10 more years to know if she can find those answers. Let’s hope she does. Visionary entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also building a Mars colonial transporter.