Senior Ethan Dederick Advances to Second Round of Mars One Application

Josephine Adamski

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Illustration by Eddy Vazquez.

Senior Ethan Dederick  has passed the first round of applications to be on the first manned mission to Mars. Getting accepted into the program would mean that Dederick gets a one-way ticket to Mars. In other words, he wouldn’t be returning to Earth.

The program is called Mars One, a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands, and its goal is human settlement on Mars. Originally, there was a pool of over 200,000 people who applied to be on the mission. After the first round of applications, 1,000 applicants remained, including Dederick.

“After the original application … I had to pass preliminary physical examinations, which included a physical, blood work analysis, nerve tests, electrocardiogram, respiratory examination, tests for diseases, eye tests and hearing tests,” said Dederick.

The first unmanned mission will launch in 2018, using only existing technology to establish a settlement that would be ready for the manned missions, the first of which would be launched in 2024.

The second step, if Dederick gets in, would take him to the Netherlands for an interview.  If he gets accepted for the mission, he would then go through eight years of training with three other individuals to develop the skills they need to create, establish and sustain settlements on Mars. 

“The crews of four are chosen by how the groups get along, and I know the people they are looking at are all exceptional. So no, I’m not worried about the people I would potentially be placed with. And if at any point in the eight years something happens with a member of the group, they will automatically be removed from the program,” he said.

Dederick explained his family’s reaction to his application and the prospect of a one-way ticket to Mars.

“My dad says he is 49 percent against it and 51 percent for it. My mom won’t really speak on the matter, but my sister is all for it.  If it came time, I think someone would have to drag my mother away from the launch pad,” he said.

For Dederick, not returning home is a sacrifice that he is willing to make.

“At some point, people came from Europe to colonize [America], and I know I am happy they did that.  If I can make a sacrifice for a better life, I will. That’s how I rationalize it.  You can’t explore new lands without losing sight of the shore, and that’s kind of what I need to do here,” he said.

According to his advisor, Associate Professor of Astronomy and General Studies Andrea Dobson, it wasn’t a shock when Dederick applied.

“I wasn’t surprised that he applied or made the cut. I could see he wanted to do the astronaut gig … Ethan has that drive.”

 Dederick’s unconventional dream career ultimately led him to apply to the Mars One program.

“My dream occupation doesn’t exist. I would like to be an interplanetary explorer, like Calvin and Hobbes’s Spaceman Spiff exploring the universe. This allows me to get as close as I possibly can.  And very few people have the opportunity to take an adventure, an actual physical adventure, and it scares the hell out of me, but it’s very exciting,”

Dederick’s application to the program could mean greater exposure for Whitman College and the solidification of the college as a rigorous and noteworthy establishment.

“I think there is something about Whitman that attracts students who are likely to want to take risks … so I think it’s validation of the sort of place Whitman is, and the type of people who come, grow and turn into interesting human beings.  And if he goes, it would let more people hear about this place,” Dobson said.

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