Pilot Dreams of Stamping His One-Way Ticket to Mars

By Carl Engelking | March 6, 2014 9:00 am
Nick Noreus

Nick Noreus prepares to fly an Mi-17 in Ukraine while he was embedded with the Afghan Army for a year.

There’s something rejuvenating about escaping civilization for the quiet isolation of unadulterated wilderness. But could you leave it all behind — forever? That’s the fate that awaits the men and women still in contention for a one-way ticket to the Red Planet.

Pilot, mechanic and inventor Nick Noreus, 33, from Florida, survived the first round of cuts, and he is on the shortlist for the Mars One mission.

No Fear

If Noreus is selected after making the grade over two years of physical and psychological testing, he will begin an intensive 8-year training program. Noreus and about 40 others will be periodically cut off from friends, family, and civilization while training — and, if they are chosen, for the remainder of their lifetimes on Mars.

For most people, the prospect of never seeing Earth again is an emotionally and psychologically paralyzing fear. The first question most people ask Mars One applicants: Aren’t you afraid?

“Absolutely, it scares me. It’s going to be dangerous; it’s space exploration. But that’s the price of exploration,” Noreus says. “My biggest fear isn’t catastrophe. My biggest fear is that humanity’s interest will not be enough to keep the Mars colony going.”

The Mars One mission plan consists of multiple unmanned cargo missions to Mars to build the infrastructure prior to the first manned mission, which will depart in 2024. Before humans arrive, a rover will build the life-support systems and shelter hubs for the pioneering crew. The Mars One Foundation plans to land an exploratory rover on the planet by 2018.

“Personally, I just want to be a part of such a big step for humanity. I liken it to the great explorers you read about in early history,” Noreus said. “I don’t have any doubts that humans will explore Mars. If I don’t do it, someone else will.”


Noreus’s Mars One application video.

Fulfilling a Dream

From his earliest memories, Noreus recalls gazing upon the heavens as if they were his second home. He’s now a CV-22 Osprey pilot with the United States Air Force, after earning a degree in atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences. Applying for the Mars One mission was a no-brainer for a man who always felt the tug of the cosmos.

“Space exploration has always been a low-level thought in my life. Only recently has this become a realistic opportunity,” Noreus said. “There really isn’t another aspect of science I’d be willing to sacrifice everything for.”

Noreus hasn’t strayed far from the lure of avionic adventures, even in his off hours. He recently taught himself how to fly a gyroplane, essentially a helicopter that uses wings to fly, by watching YouTube videos.

Such bold experimentation has helped put dangers of the Mars One mission in perspective. “[The Mars One trip is] no less dangerous than teaching yourself how to fly from YouTube,” Noreus said laughing. “Once you reach a certain height, a mechanical failure is just as fatal in a gyroplane as it is in a space shuttle.” 

Noreus said his propensity to tinker with and fix machines is the best skill he’ll bring to the Mars One mission, and he’s optimistic he’ll be a member of that first crew that blasts off for Mars in just about a decade’s time.

“My whole life I’ve been putting things together and taking them apart. Our lives will be sustained by how well we maintain our machines,” Noreus said.

Captivating Humanity

Mars One is a non-profit foundation founded in 2011. Roughly 200,000 people around the world applied for the mission, but Mars One narrowed the field to 1,058 interplanetary pioneers earlier this year. The mission relies financially upon crowdsourced funding, sponsorships, and broadcast deals to keep the civilization going. The foundation has already partnered with the likes of Lockheed Martin, Space Exploration Technologies, and ILC Dover.

Regular broadcasts and books of the selection process, and updates from Mars, will hopefully keep Earthlings captivated. Mars One will soon release a book about the crew selection and life on Mars. Noreus plans to blog about the selection process to keep the buzz going.

“Mission number one is to get the word out about this to the public. We need to light the imaginations of humanity,” Noreus said. “If humanity loses interest in keeping the colony going, we’re going to end up being an archeological site.”

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: Mars, space exploration
  • Final_Word

    What a bunch of losers.

  • Donaat

    What happens with de dead on mars(when they die of age for instance)?

    • Rotimi Henry

      I bet someone will remember to take a shovel along.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Victor Freitas

      The Dead usually stay Dead!… But we’ll never know for sure!

    • dan

      Its a one way trip :)

    • Timothy Scott

      They won’t die from old age…they will die of complications from solar radiation!

  • Odin Matanguihan

    Disappointed that I didn’t get to be part of the 1058. But I’ll still be supporting you all the way.

  • Jesse

    People are dumb… Why would we put people on Mars? There are no trees!!! What’s the point of putting people into an environment where they cannot survive outside the buildings they live in? Why don’t we colonize the oceans? We worry about space exploration when we haven’t even explored the majority of the earth.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Victor Freitas

      Yes, people are dumb… you just proved your point with the rest of your comment… It has been thought, and possible we could prove it one day, that Mars could be habitable after terraformation… you’re probably not interested in this but if you read a bit you’ll find out that there are plenty of study on that and of course there’s also a lot more to be done… and that’s where they come in, being the pioneers, being the first to step on it… You know like Neal Armstrong one day stepped on the moon… If we don’t try to achieve our dreams, then we’ll never get them… About that part on ocean exploration, if you’re so interested in that, what are YOU doing about it?

      • Joyce Roling

        Why don’t they use this “terraformation” here on earth, especially in areas where people are starving? Transform deserts and barren wastelands into productive oasises… oasi (Sorry, this dumb human doesn’t know the pleural of oasis) so that the people living in abject poverty can prosper and flourish??
        I’m NOT saying “Don’t go to Mars”, I’m saying lets use & perfect this process, starting NOW!

        • dan

          Because the deserts are part of the biosphere .. there will always be deserts as there will always be tropical regions on planets similar to earth, its part of the natural equilibrium that exists all over the universe

          • Timothy Scott

            Not so Dan…you have to figure in a planets density, what type of core it has, the speed at which it rotates on its axis if it rotates at all, the angle in which it faces the sun as it rotates, its rotational orbit around the sun, does it have water(oceans etc…), does it have a moon with its own rotation to pull on it to affect tidal currents…etc! Not to mention a planet has to be in a hospitable zone in relation to its sun!

          • Timothy Scott

            There can be earth-like planets that are purely either completely water covered, or ice covered or completely desert covered depending on all the circumstances as i stated b4!

          • dan

            Oh youre hopeless lol .. im talking about being in the goldylocks zone .. planets exactly like earth again …. the weather patterns on earth .. enough with your variables :) .. and yes the greenhouse effect happens either way, it is why we are able to live … .our contribution to it is another matter…. now enough lol

          • dan

            Hence the plants similar to earth part of the comment .. I implied with all similar variables .. not just size or distance or density or axis or any one. .. but thanks there tips :)

          • dan

            And if we’re getting technical we are totally teramforming the planet .. our contribution to the green house effect is altering our atmosphere in huge ways

          • dan

            K well aside from meaning earth shaping .. I just read the definition an yes it refers to making things more like earth .. but by altering atmosphere etc . Which we are doing

          • Timothy Scott

            Your right we are but none the less it would happen without our help!

        • Timothy Scott

          Terraforming involves transforming a planets atmosphere and thats completely impossible here! And b4 any others chime in…the “greenhouse effect” is actually a naturally occurring effect but yes we are speeding it up!

      • Timothy Scott

        And Victor you just proved how ignorant you are as well! Do you have any idea just how long it would take, if we even had any idea how in the first place, to terraform that planet? First in order to terraform you have to change the atmosphere of Mars to mimic our own planet to keep out radiation, secondly you need to figure out a way to manipulate plant-life to adapt to Mars enviroment! Those two examples alone are almost impossible! Thats why it will be near impossible to terraform Mars within the next couple hundred years! Thats why for now anybody who goes there is on a death mission!

        • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Victor Freitas

          Wow… So you’re way of thinking is: Too difficult, too much research needed, too expensive, too much time to do it, soo not worth it right? If everyone thought like you, we would still be in middle ages! And like I said, you don’t know anything about what you’re talking about, try using a search engine, read a little, use a bit of imagination, you’ll find out that it’s not that near impossible… Actually there are some very promising ideas on the works, most are not feasible in a human lifespan but this is an endeavor for all humanity not for a single human. I’m just glad that you’re not in the “make stuff happen” business or else nothing would be done.

          • Timothy Scott

            Actually Victor i have a 142 IQ and i’m a proud member of Menza so i doubt that i’d qualify as being ignorant! Do some real research from reputable sources then get back to me with said proof! Good idea let’s spend and waste billions of more money and time towards space exploration when millions suffer from starvation, disease, etc…when space exploration has contributed nothing to mankind! And yes it is quite impossible to terraform Mars! This isn’t Star Trek!

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Victor Freitas

            Really? Space Exploration Did Nothing For Humanity? Really? Satelites and all the connected media, processors, developing solar panels and so on, they made no difference, right? With that very insightful information from you, i realize there isn’t really anything i can say since you treat science as a religion and only listen to the things that you prefer and not go against you’re own ideas.
            I didn’t make any reference to you IQ and neither did I say you where ignorant… dunno why you had the need to say that… But what i can say is that you know nothing of all there is to know… And neither do I… The fact the terraformation is not feasible in human life span right now doesn’t mean that in a few years it is still not going to be.
            Have you taken a look at the evolution of technology these days? The exponential graph of Moore’s law? And considering time doesn’t end, we have almost eternity to solve that problem. But we won’t need eternity…
            What I learn throughout my years is that: what today is truth tomorrow may not be. You’re position is like giving up a fight without a first punch being given… Oohhh and you’re talking about the poor, starvation and disease… there’s more then enough food for every mouth in this world… But the great capitalism that made USA so prominent is the same one that keeps the world so out of balance. So money is not the problem, the food is there, whater is there, vaccines are there, transportation is there, everything needed exists… The thing is: it’s just not feasible to some people!

          • Timothy Scott

            Victor please stop you’re killing me…satelites, processors, solar panels? You’re saying that these things came from our pursuit to be in space…really? Really? OMG i almost don’t even want to respond to that but i will then i will be done! Satelites came before space exploration not after (Sputnick 1 – 1957), the idea and initial developement of solar panels actually dates back to the 1800’s about the same time as early electric batteries and processors? You’re saying that the only reason for the advent of the modern day microprocessor was from the wanton advancement for better space advancement? Seriously? Also if you truly knew anything then you would know that we as a species(genetically speaking) do not have an eternity to figure it all out, secondly the “Earth” also doesn’t have an eternity either…the earth’s rotation is slowing down and it will eventually stop. Which is what you need to do…just stop please!

          • Timothy Scott

            Even if somehow we figured out a way to #1 create an artificial or natural magnetic field and #2 decide on a way to pump oxygen into its almost non-existent atmosphere which btw is shredded and ripped away by solar radiation daily we still would have to figure out how to get rid of all the iron oxide rust which covers Mar’s entire surface…like i said terraforming Mars is near impossible! Nuff said!

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Victor Freitas

            Where the hell are the satelites, uhh? In you’re head they aren’t for sure… Space exploration is not only by getting into a rocket and go outside our atmosphere, grab a telescope and you’d be doing it too… And has for processors and solar panels what i mean is that because of space exploration they have been improved a lot… and stop being an as*… don’t want to listen then don’t open you’re mouth either… And I didn’t mean literary eternity, OMG… The sun will become a supernova and Earth will be gone to pieces… and after that our galaxy will hit the galaxy Andromeda… and if one won’t be our demise the other will… But it’ll take millions of years… Don’t make unnecessary comments… As for terraformation or anything else that may need you to move you’re as* or use you’re brain I guess you’re against it!

          • Timothy Scott

            LMAO you kill me! You’re another fine example of my favorite line “thin out the herd god, please”!

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Victor Freitas

            Wow… Exacly what i expected… Not agreeing what I said, you just ask you’re imaginary friend to make me disappear! That’s priceless!

          • Timothy Scott

            I had to…there’s no arguing with stupidity!

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Victor Freitas

            No that’s in it’s own way, hate talk… You’re no better then a racist… And when confronted, you just call names and ask your god to take me out… You are disrespectful and can’t be reasoned with… just like a pampering child… Like an old saying from my country: The worst blind man is the one who doesn’t want to see…

          • Timothy Scott

            You can’t be reasoned with either! Talk about the ” pot calling the kettle black”! I have another saying “a wise man learns from others while a fool learns from himself”! If you truly weren’t ignorant then you would know that wasn’t hate or racism talk! I don’t hate those who are stupid/ignorant, but now they have a public outlet! Sadly that outlet can’t be turned off!

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Victor Freitas

            Why can’t I be reasoned with? At least I read your comments and try to explain my point of view… You just put aside anything you don’t like… At least i try to understand you, I listen, I read, and try to learn… you speak like you already have everything figured out and everyone else is stupid… Sorry, but i’m not the ignorant in the room… And although you say it wasn’t hate talk, you showed complete disregard for other people points of view and even invoked god to make me disappear… That isn’t reasoning… So in a last try to open your eyes, I just ask you to read your own quote (and a great quote, I must say) maybe you’ll learn something from it: “a wise man learns from others while a fool learns from himself”!

          • Timothy Scott

            This only further proves my point how ignorant you are! The so called invoking of god was not literal! I don’t even believe in a so called “religious god”! Reading someones point of view and then telling them their ignorant or dumb then trying to explain your points of view doesn’t mean you can be reasonable…where the hell did you go to school? It doesn’t feel good when someone else tries to be a know it all and call you dumb does it Victor? Maybe you should reflect on your very first comment directed at Jesse then get back to me! “How about those apples?”

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Victor Freitas

            Satelites are a part of space exploration… One didn’t come without the other… and the goal of manned space exploration was the reason why satelites where created in the first place… you just can’t separate the two… And throughout the years as new rockets and new tech appear they where evolved to fit inside them… there wasn’t a guy 60 years ago the created a satelite and they stayed the same since then… And solar cells were a big part of satelite construction… they where evolved so they could fit there… Just because you say: “fact” doesn’t mean it is… I can use that argument too… Solar cells were evolved throughout years of space exploration – fact. See… it was that easy… back your claims please… And my only oppinions where based on the present to extrapolate the future. Did you read Jesse comment? Then you’d know that she started that type of discussion… And really, you just come here blabling about, but you are saying nothing truthful or instructive… This ain’t a philosophers contest… but if it was… Congratulations… you win!

          • Timothy Scott

            Sputnick 1’s design and purpose was to place a radio transmitter into space, not for what you stated! Look it up, Sputnick 3 on the other hand was designed for the reasons you stated! BUT the initial reason for going into space was because the scientific community began to realize they had the ability to do so finally…yes because technology had evolved to allow them to! Your arguement though is that space exploration solely caused the science and tech community to purposely evolve and improve upon existing tech just for space exploration which is simply untrue! Did it help to improve and refine it – absolutely, but without space exploration it would still have evolved albeit at a slower pace perhaps!

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Victor Freitas

            Look, long before rockets were used as military grade weapons, they where already in use to try to breach earths atmosphere… If you take a look at early space race you’ll see that Russians where already launching rockets before WW1 started for this purpose… altough they were amateur rockteers that dreamed already of space exploration! In 1903, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky wrote “The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices”, the first serious scientific work on space travel. So what you said is not totally true… You can find a lot of russian media coverage for the failed attempts on launching a rocket to space at this time! Although you’re right in the case of the United States where they only really started working on these after a lot of technology where available and after the URSS launch of Sputnik 1.
            On the radio transmitter you’re correct but this was not the only goal of Sputnik 1 witch was part of a broader mission. Effects of radiation where also analyzed but instead of in living organisms was in the structure of the satelite. Also, telemetry was widely evolved with new sensors and new measuring techniques. Some of the goals I mentioned before, were part of the broader mission witch some of them where only used on Sputnik 3 that was launched about 6 months after, has you said.

            Finally in you’re last paragraph you came to terms with all I’ve been saying…
            That all came from space exploration would be a dumb statement but that without it technology wouldn’t be at the point where it is, it’s also a valid point… One witch you rejected so strongly at the beginning of the talk. I’m sure that if a Nasa engineer commented this talk he could mention a lot of other techs that were developed there that we had no idea. And he probably would be a bit sad looking at your statement too!

            But see, while talking and exchanging ideas we’ve reached somewhere and maybe we learned something too…

          • Timothy Scott

            You’re correct i did learn alot and that is that i need to think before texting! I absolutely apologize for being such a rude person…i shouldn’t have been like that! I apologize for my behavior and my rude comments Victor! I do not expect you ti accept my apology but i still need to say it…and yes i mean it!

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Victor Freitas

            No apologies needed! This has been a great talk, although we’ve been on opposite ends throughout! I’ve been a bit rude too, sometimes is hard to hide our frustration when we’re not understood. And for that I’m sorry too! But has for any situation, if we loose a bit of time talking to one another, we start to understand one’s points of view, even if we still don’t agree with them in the end!
            So, in conclusion, thank you for the talk!

          • Timothy Scott

            Your welcome and thank you as well!

          • gendotte

            Our great grandchildren will read this and laugh and laugh and laugh.

          • Timothy Scott

            When you try to prove your arguement and you only do it with opinions then you have no arguement! You presented your opinion and i followed with facts that disproved you! Get over it! Satelites came before manned space exploration – fact, modern processors were not invented or upgraded because of space exploration – fact and solar panel developement had nothing to do with it either – fact! Lastly look at my next comment below…goodbye!

          • gendotte

            Rust? You mean iron and oxygen? Oxygen. Hmmm, there may be something there. The lack of a magnetic field is somewhat more relevant, but if an atmosphere can happen, it will last for geological ages before it is blown away.

          • gendotte

            Oh, Timothy, of course it’s possible! And I qualify for Mensa too, it doesn’t take that much. Anything is possible. It is an engineering problem.

  • Joyce Roling

    How long will the manned trip to Mars take in 2024?

    • dan

      6 months

  • Santosh Bhaskaran

    I wish I could also go. Away from most humans and pollution. :)

  • casey

    best mustache on mars award… coming soon

  • gendotte

    I would go in a heartbeat. And have kids there if possible.

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