Fresno native could be heading to Mars

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A graduate of Fresno's McLane High School is in the final pool of 100 people who could colonize Mars. (KFSN)

For a lot of us the idea of leaving the planet forever seems inconceivable, but a graduate of McLane High School is in the final pool of 100 people who could colonize Mars.
A Fresno native could be one of the first people on Earth to get a one-way ticket to another planet.

Imagine a trip into space, flying to Mars to create a new society and never coming back. The unimaginable for some could be a reality for Kenya Armbrister in less than 10 years.

"With this mission I can do that, you know? I can expand the human race in another world and give us another place to call home," said Armbrister.

The 36-year-old Fresno native is one of 100 people chosen from more than 200,000 applicants. The now Bay Area resident graduated from McLane High School in 1996 before traveling the world to study international relations. Armbrister says she's always been interested in space exploration.

"To be able to go to Mars and learn about the history of the planet. Why is it dry? Why is it cold? What happened to the planet? To be able to just do first-hand research there is an amazing opportunity," she said.

But the mission comes with risk. Mars is the planet next door in our solar system, but even then it's roughly 249 million miles away. Along the way, the Mars One team will be exposed to radiation, and they'll have to fight bone loss once they land on the planet. And most importantly, they have to learn how to survive.

"We have to learn how to grow our own food. We have to learn how to create our own oxygen, create our own water, create our own heat," said Armbrister.

If Armbrister is chosen as one of the final 24 people, she could leave as early as 2024. They will be able to talk to those back on Earth, but she'll have to physically say goodbye to her family and friends to serve her mission.

"To be a part of a team and create a new society for humanity -- that's my purpose. And I just want to inspire people to think differently and to support this mission because we need the world's support," said Armbrister.

Armbrister will know by the end of this year if she's selected for the Mars One Mission.

Not everyone in the aerospace community is supportive of this private venture. The technical and financial feasibility has been criticized, as well as the ethics of the mission.

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