RENO, Nev. (AP) — Reno's Kay Radzik Warren is a doer, not a dreamer.
And if all goes well, in little more than a decade, she'll be a Martian.
Radzik Warren, 53, is one of 1,058 people from around the world still in the running to become part of the first human habitation of Mars. The group has been winnowed from more than 200,000 people who applied to be part of the nonprofit Mars One Foundation project.
"I'm really, really excited," said Radzik Warren, who concedes she was "very skeptical" when she first saw a post about the Mars One project on Facebook. That quickly changed, however.
"I went to their website and was amazed at how together they were," she told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "The whole idea of colonizing Mars sounded like something I've always wanted to do. I've always been into space and the final frontier, so I looked into applying. It was quite a big application process."
Radzik Warren filed her application this past summer and last month learned she had made the second round of a four-round selection process that will ultimately select 24 people.
"The next step is for everyone to get the go-ahead from their physicians," she said. "They gave us a list of all the health items we need to have looked at."
Just in case you're wondering if psychological testing is including in the battery of tests, it is. Rest assured, Radzik Warren is fully in control of her mental faculties.
"I'm physically fit and psychologically sound," she said.
Her fascination with space started at an early age.
"My mom, she is a big astronomy buff," Radzik Warren said. "She's 86 now. She still goes out with her binoculars at night and she has books on stars and planets. So I've always been fascinated with space."
An Army brat, Radzik Warren was born in Japan. She grew up in Southern California and earned a Bachelor's of Architecture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She also studied architecture for a year in Australia, lived in Seattle and has driven cross country multiple times.
She has lived in Reno since 1998 and works as an architectural project manager. At home, she's adept at gardening, works on her own cars and feels like she has the perfect skills to be a part of the Mars One team.
"I'm very adaptable and I'm very resilient," she said. "I'm an adventuress. I don't have a problem with this (Mars mission). I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from family and friends. A lot of them said, 'I'd never do this, but you'd be perfect for it.' I'm open to new things and I'm curious by nature."
She hasn't met any of the other Mars One applicants in person yet, but has connected with many of them through the project's Facebook page.
If she makes the cut as one of the participants, she will enter into a years-long training program, starting in 2015. Training, in fact, will become her full-time, paid job and include three programs: technical training, personal training and group training.
The technical training will teach the astronauts skills they'll need to ensure they are proficient in the use and repair of all equipment. Personal training includes ensuring that the astronauts have the ability to cope with the difficult living environment they will face on Mars, and the group training will be made up of simulated missions.
Several unmanned missions are part of the Mars One project's timeline, as equipment including a communications satellite will be sent up well before the first four-person crew departs for the red planet.
Additional four-person teams will depart every two years after the first team goes.
Radzik Warren said it's her goal to be one of the first four.
"You've got to admit, the first colony, we'll be the ones laying the groundwork for further colonists to come into. We're the experimental colony. We're going to make sure everything works, everything gets put together. I'd love to be on the front lines of that."
The colonists will be able to communicate with people on Earth — a nice thing as Radzik Warren's husband and family members, who are supporting her effort, will remain behind.
With current space technologies, just getting to Mars will require a space ride of six to eight months. And the trip is one-way, at least for now. That is something Radzik Warren is OK with.
"I have agreed, in my mind, to never coming back," she said. "However, technology is growing in leaps and bounds. Who is to say that 10 years after first colony there isn't going to be a way to go to Mars and back again? We don't know that now, but right now, getting people to Mars is a total reality. It's not a dream anymore. That's what is very intriguing to me."
It is, she said, her chance to do something for mankind.
"I love the planet earth, but just the prospect of colonizing another planet, to me, is something that feels like home to me," she said.
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