She wants to be out of this world.
Kitty Kane has her travel plans made, although her departure is not yet confirmed. She's hoping to take a trip to Mars, one-way. And it's not for 10 more years.
The 24-year-old Provo hairstylist has applied to be one of the first people from Earth to colonize the red planet. Initially, 200,000 turned in applications. That number has been pared down to 1,058 and she is still in the running. Seven others of those continuing on are from Utah. Organizers are planning on an international crew. Of the more than 1,000 currently in the running, almost 300 are from the United States. One of the requirements is that they all must speak English, to facilitate communication.
"I think that is a beautiful goal," Kane said. "It is not for national pride, but for all of humanity. It is one of my favorite things about the project."
The project is being conducted by a nonprofit named Mars One. Its co-founder, Bas Lansdorp, described in a release the remaining 1,058 candidates as the first tangible glimpse into what the new human settlement will truly look like. "We're extremely appreciative and impressed with the sheer number of people who submitted their applications," Lansdorp said. "However, the challenge with 200,000 applicants is separating those who we feel are physically and mentally adept to become human ambassadors on Mars from those who are obviously taking the mission much less seriously."
Norbert Kraft, Chief Medical Officer of Mars One and recipient of the 2013 NASA Group Achievement Award, said the next steps would be strenuous.
"The next several selection phases in 2014 and 2015 will include rigorous simulations, many in team settings, with focus on testing the physical and emotional capabilities of our remaining candidates," he said. "We expect to begin understanding what is motivating our candidates to take this giant leap for humankind. This is where it really gets exciting for Mars One, our applicants, and the communities they're a part of."
Each of the remaining applicants will have face-to-face interviews to help determine the ones who will progress to the next level. Those are expected in the next few months.
Kane was instantly attracted to the idea when she first read about it.
"Everything clicked into place," she said. "It is like hearing a baby name and knowing you want it for your child. It felt like destiny -- something I needed to do."
"I felt like there aren't that many people who would be willing to do it," she said. "You have to be psychologically capable. I felt it was almost my duty to humankind."
There are others who apparently have felt the same. Those still in the running will be further decreased until they reach several teams of four who will take the initial flight, planned for 2024. Every two years after that, they anticipate sending four additional people.
During the intervening 10 years, those selected will go through training to prepare them for the flight and project.
"They will teach you how to wear a lot of hats," she said. "I could learn how to pull a tooth, for example."
Some may already have medical or scientific training, which could help them in the selection process. However, there are other characteristics that will be considered.
"I am good at working in a team," she said. "I am a people person. I solve problems creatively. A lot of really smart people are applying. I feel it is more about aptitude and attitude. I feel like I have that."
One other thing in her favor?
"They will all have beautiful hair," the hairdresser said.
She said she has other characteristics that would be helpful.
"I feel really positive," she said. "I am definitely an extrovert. I feel positive being around other people -- not large crowds, however. I love that we are going to turn into a family. I feel like I would be more of a mom to the group."
That could be her only chance. She is single and, if chosen, would remain single.
Her mother has mixed emotions about the possible future.
"My mom thinks it is cool that I am getting interviews," she said. "But she's not sure about me actually going to Mars. For the most part people have been pretty supportive."
Kane anticipates that when it is available, others will come to Mars.
"Once people are colonizing Mars other people are going to go," she said. "I think there will be a rush to colonize Mars."
In the meantime, there would be some contact between those on Mars and the rest of us.
"There will still be communication with Earth," she said. Don't expect to send care packages, however. Shipments of supplies would only come every two years.
The technology already exists for the travelers to live on Mars, she said.
"They can take water from the soil and oxygen out of the water," Kane said.
Mars was selected because it is the most realistic option in our solar system, because of the temperatures and the fact that it has a small amount of atmosphere, she said.
She sees good things and others a little frightening.
"It is definitely on my mind," she said. "Sometimes it does scare me a little bit, but I think it is worth it. I feel like all humans want to reach out and experience the unknown."
"I was really shocked and ecstatic about making the first round," she said. "The reality hasn't set in yet. It is daunting. It is the most exciting thing. I am excited to be a part of it. Even if I don't get to go, I want this to happen."
"I believe that humans need to branch out," she said. "I don't think we can stay on Earth forever, especially considering environmental problems. We can learn a lot from this. There will be a lot of strides made in areas such as recycling. A lot of experiments need to be done. There is a lot of science that can be done. I think it is really exciting."
More information is available at www.mars-one.com. There is also a link to join in the crowdfunding which is expected to help finance the project.
Daily Herald reporter Barbara Christiansen can be reached at 801-344-2907 or email@example.com. Twitter: @bchristiansen3.