Aaron Hamm, an assistant hotel engineer who deals with HVAC, cooling systems, and maintenance, lacks the traditional qualifications to be an astronaut. But that doesn't mean he wants to stay on Earth. "I felt… I was discouraged as a child [from becoming an astronaut] just because of how unbelievably competitive it is,” Hamm told Ars. “I’m a very intelligent person and I’m driven to try and achieve my dreams but, at the same time, I felt like it was an really unrealistic goal to try and pursue. As smart as I am, there's always plenty of people that are smarter.”
Hamm, an Ars forum user by the name of Quisquis, has just applied for the private Mars One colony program. For him, a large part of the appeal is that the program seeks a different type of astronaut.
“I think that the Mars One mission and the idea of going somewhere that you're not coming back from for life… that's different than the general astronaut program,” he said. Hamm also emphasized his own pioneer spirit, which he will need if accepted—there’s no return journey planned for Mars One colonists.
A new horizon
Mars One is a private space mission that hopes to send a group of people to Mars in a decade and leave them there to foster the first human colony. It has received endorsement and support from the likes of Gerard ’t Hooft, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. But it has also been criticized on several counts, including treating a serious life-threatening scenario as a reality show for the purposes of monetization and seeking funding while being glib about nearly all the practical details.