By LINDSAY WELBERS
Mars One, a Dutch not-for-profit organization, has set the ambitious goal of sending 24 people to colonize Mars in ten years.
Mead McCormick, now a California resident but a 2009 graduate of the University of Chicago, hopes to take some of the filmmaking skills she learned in Hyde Park to Mars.
People were selected from 200,000 applicants around the globe. Everymen from across the globe submitted an application, including a one-minute video, to Mars One in April of 2013. Over several rounds of elimination the number of applicants was reduced to 100. The number will be reduced down to 24 before the finalists are selected. Six teams of four people will travel to Mars where they will study the red planet. There are currently no plans for a return trip so those selected cannot reasonably expect to return to Earth in their lifetimes.
There are critics in the scientific community who say the 10 year timeline is unrealistic and that the $6 billion Mars One estimated the mission would cost is unrealistically low. For comparison NASA estimated a similar mission would take 20 years and cost $100 million. There are plans to finance the mission using a reality television show and by selling advertising. McCormick, who had a double major in English and Film and Media Studies at the U. of C., is confident that the mission will go forward as planned.
Hyde Park Herald: Let’s start in Hyde Park. When were you here? What did you study? Any fun stories or memories about the neighborhood?
Mead McCormick: I came to Hyde Park in fall 2005 I graduated from Chicago in 2009 I double majored in English and Film and Media Studies. I was part of the filmmaking group called Fire Escape Films and we would do a 48-hour film festival every year. You’d have a team and you’d write, produce, star in and edit a film all within two days and at the end there would be a screening. It’s kind of crazy. Afterwards you can’t go to a week of classes you just need to sleep for days. When you’re staying up all night like that we’d walk over to Valois at sunrise and get breakfast and then walk over to the Point and watch the sunrise. Or maybe it was the other way around.
HPH: As a kid where did you grow up? Were you really into sci-fi?
MM: I’m from Williamsburg, Va. I watched a lot of science fiction, a lot of fiction more than science. I’ve always been really into Star Wars, Star Trek, a lot of the spacey narratives and stuff like that. I lived in Russia when I was a kid. My dad got this job in a city called Barnaul in Siberia. The weather is actually kind of like Chicago’s. I’d hang out with my friends. It was the mid-90s and it was the middle of February. Me and my friends were always really into Star Wars.
HPH: Let’s move onto the Mars One application. How did you hear about it? Why apply?
MM: My roommate originally told me about it but it was kind of going around as this crazy news story. But I thought it was really interesting that it was open to anybody in the world because that doesn’t happen with astronauts. Usually they’re very curated by an upbringing in science and brought down a very specific path. It was very exciting it could be anyone from any country, not just countries with space programs. I was talking to my friends saying, “Isn’t this a great idea?” and they were like “No, this is crazy.”
HPH: If you leave how do you want to spend the next 10 years?
MM: I definitely don’t feel prepared enough to leave today but I feel that I’m at the level I should be from 9 to 10 years out. I want to hang out with all my loved ones and my friends and my family and I guess do as much traveling as possible and see as many cultures as I haven’t been able to experience yet.