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Last Frontier to final frontier: Former Alaskan in running for one-way trip to Mars

Sean Doogan
Lauren Reeves, who grew up in Fairbanks as part of a prominent Alaska family, is now working as a comedian and actress in New York City. And she's one of 1,000 semi-finalists who may be taking a one-way trip to Mars. NASA / USGS

A New York City comedian and former Alaska broadcast journalist has been chosen as one of about 1,000 finalists for a Dutch-based plan to send people to colonize Mars. The initial list of people who applied for a one-way trip to the Red Planet contained more than 200,000 names. Former Fairbanks resident Lauren Reeves, 30, is among the “lucky” ones named to the list of semi-finalists, which was announced early Tuesday. 

In 2015, Mars One -- the Dutch-based non-profit behind the idea -- will pick the six teams of four astronauts each that will be sent on the trip to Mars in staggered intervals. The first of the teams will begin making the trip to Mars in 2024 -- which Mars One estimates will take 210 days -- following years of training. The astronauts are expected to build and live in life support modules -- covered with Martian soil to protect them from radiation -- and eventually die there. The mission does not contain plans to bring any of the chosen applicants back to terra firma.

Reeves, the daughter of prominent Alaska businessman and land-owner John Reeves, grew up in Fairbanks. She has worked as a reporter for KTVF there and KIMO in Anchorage, but is currently a New York City-based comedian. She has her own video segment on the website Adweek and has frequently appeared on the “Conan O’Brien Show," “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and "Saturday Night Live." Reeves' comedy comes through in her video application to Mars One. In the video, Reeves said she “likes aliens,” and worries that the biggest problem she may encounter while living on Mars is a slow internet connection.

Another major factor for successful Mars One applicants: a desire to go to Mars, and compatibility with each other.

“I’d like to think I was chosen because I am funny and have a personality,” Reeves said. “Most people would want to be stuck with an entertaining person on Mars. They don’t want to be stuck with an asshole.”

Reeves' comedy and acting background may actually help her in the quest to go beyond Earth. While the trip to Mars is being proposed in part for its scientific potential, the backers of Mars One also plan to televise the day-to-day routine of the people they plan to send there. The sale of the broadcasting rights is part of the estimated $6-billion financing package for the Mars mission.

While she still has long odds of actually being chosen for the trip -- the 1,058 remaining applicants will eventually be whittled down to fewer than 40 -- she is still keeping 2024 open.

Reeves said she was told she would be receiving a phone call from Mars One officials within the next week to discuss the details, and remains eager to actually go through with the trip, if she is ultimately chosen.

"I would be sad to leave Earth, but I would hate myself for not being bold enough to go,” Reeves said.  “Besides, it will give me a chance to be the funniest person on the entire planet.”

You can follow along with Reeves' adventures going forward, at her Twitter account.

Contact Sean Doogan at sean(at)alaskadispatch.com