More Durbanites prepare to?pack?their?bags?for Mars

2014-09-03 00:00

ONE might start to ask about the exodus from Durban to Mars, with two more locals on the shortlist of people worldwide vying for the one-way trip.

We reported last month that Adriana Marais, a PhD student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Chemistry and Physics, was in the final countdown for selection for the Mars One Project. Now Divashen Govender (22) and Michael Grundling (26), both from Pinetown, are also candidates for the one-way trip scheduled for 2024. Grundling is a computer technician.

They are among 705 people around the world short-listed as possible candidates for the 24- person Mars One plan to establish a permanent human colony on Mars by 2025.

Govender, currently doing a BSc in Applied Maths and Physics at UKZN, has been interested in science and space as long as he can remember.

“When we were six or seven my cousins and I used to set ourselves science questions to see who could top the other.”

Govender was immediately attracted to the project. “It doesn’t matter if I’m finally selected,” he said. “I just wanted to be part of it.”

He isn’t fazed that, at present, there’s no coming back from the red planet. “I have no delusions about the risks involved.

“I have this ultimate dream and the will to pursue it no matter what,” said Govender, who is inspired by astronaut Gus Grissom who died in 1967 during a training exercise for the Apollo 1 moon mission.

“He said, ‘We are in a risky business, and … the conquest of space is worth the risk of life’.”

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