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China's Volunteer Astronaut to Mars May Drop Out if Family Objects
   2015-02-22 22:32:33    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Guo

Astrophysicist Maggie Lieu is writing a PhD dissertation on cosmic giants at the University of Birmingham in the UK. [Photo/CCTV]

Li Dapeng, one of the two Chinese volunteers who have opted to take a one-way trip to Mars, says he will drop out of the project if his family objects to his ambitious plans.

CRI's Qizhi has more.

Li Dapeng is one of the two Chinese volunteers who have opted to go on a one-way trip to Mars as part of an ambitious international collaboration to set up a permanent base on the red planet.

He is a graduate of China Agricultural University with a bachelor's degree, and is now working at a local forestry bureau in Handan in North China's Hebei Province. He has no previous experience of being an astronaut.

But the young father in his 30's says he volunteered for this controversial project, because he believed that in future humanity had to find another home outside of Earth, and that he wanted to be a pioneer in this quest.

"How many opportunities does one have to spend billions of dollars? I want to make good use of this opportunity to explore other planets and expand the presence of mankind in the universe."

Mars One, a Dutch non-profit project co-founded in 2013 by Bas Lansdorp, a Dutch entrepreneur, aims to establish a permanent manned station on Mars. Crews of four will depart Earth for the planet every two years, starting from 2024.

Two Chinese are among the top 100 candidates for the Mars One project. Twenty four of them will be trained for the one-way trip to Mars.

The Mars One project has been controversial since its inception.

Some say they love the idea of humans exploring and setting up a camp on Mars, but others point out the unresolved ethical issues linked to the project, especially the fact that it is a one-way trip and the volunteers cannot come back to earth again.

Some people even accuse the project of being a con trying to swindle those who have pledged money on crowd funding platforms. The project is headquartered in a rented house in the Netherlands. But the organizers have promised to send up communication satellites, two rovers and several cargo missions to Mars before any people are sent.

Astronauts will have to cope with intense radiation and hazardous temperatures based on existing technology after their landing. Communication with Earth will also be problematic as radio signals can take up to 21 minutes to reach here from Mars.

Given these risks and the danger of this project, Li's family is trying to convince him to drop the idea.

Li says he may opt out if his family objects strongly.

"I think I would continue to be part of the project though I might drop out half way if my family voices strong disapproval at the very end since the company has claimed that as long as you are not on aboard, you will have the right to opt out."

How will Li Dapeng make a choice between his family and his lofty cause? Only time will tell.

For CRI, I'm Qizhi.

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