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Thursday, November 27, 2014

UNM student one step closer to landing on Mars

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By Di Linh Hoang / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Zachary Gallegos looks over minerals stored on display in the Geology building on campus. Gallegos, an aspiring astronaut, has made it to the third round of the application process for the Mars One mission.

culture@dailylobo.com
@LaurenMarvin

Aspiring astronaut Zach Gallegos is one step closer to his dream, but 57.4 million miles away from attaining it.

Zach Gallegos, an Earth and Planetary Science graduate student, said he was recently promoted to the third round of selected applicants for the Mars One mission.

“I made the second round. That was a physical examination. After, 700 applicants were selected to move to the third round, which is an interview,” he said.

More than 200,000 people applied during the first round of the application process. After vetting the profiles and videos, the team of Mars One experts selected 1,058 applicants to continue to the second round, Zach Gallegos said.

“I really have this romantic view of space travel and if we want to continue our form of life, then eventually, we will have to go beyond our solar system, because in three or four billion years when the sun goes red giant, we are all screwed,” he said.

Cindy Lou Gallegos, Zach’s mother, said she is proud of her son, but apprehensive.

“I’m torn. I know it’s a great adventure for him and I know it’s something that he has worked and strived for; but at the same time, that’s my baby boy. I like to see him come home,” Cindy Gallegos said.

Richard Gallegos, Zachary’s father, shares similar feelings, but is doubtful of the space program.

“When I found out there was any possibility I was not happy at all… We do not have a space program that will certainly not get to Mars in 10 years, so if there is a chance for him to go anywhere else, I would prefer it be somewhere closer so he can come back,” Richard Gallegos said.

Even if he doesn’t make the Mars One mission, Zach Gallegos said he still plans to center his career on space travel by opening a company that trains astronauts.

“You have the people who have rockets and have the spaceships, but you don’t have a company who is training astronauts. I think that’s what I want to do,” said Zachary Gallegos.

According to mars-one.com, the Mars One mission hopes to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars by 2024. Crews of four will depart every two years. The astronauts will not be able to come back to Earth.

Zachary Gallegos, who was interviewed by the Daily Lobo in February, still has the same conviction to fulfill his lifelong goal as an astronaut.