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Meet the St. Louis-area woman ready to take a one-way trip to Mars

Maggie Duckworth
Alex Heuer
St. Louis Public Radio

Maggie Duckworth is an electrical engineer and costume designer. She’s also the only St. Louis-area resident who’s still in the running for a one-way ticket to Mars.

Duckworth is a finalist for the Mars One mission to build a human colony on the Red Planet. Mars One is a Dutch nonprofit organization that plans to send humans to Mars by 2024. It will award 24 one-way tickets and Duckworth has made it through three rounds of cuts.

On Wednesday, "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh talked to Duckworth about Mars and what makes her ideal for the trip.

“This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl,” Duckworth said. “I’ve always been fascinated by space. I used to stare up at the stars and I’ve really wanted humanity to just get out there and start exploring the rest of our solar system and beyond that.”

Although there were more than 200,000 applicants, many people are likely dissuaded at the thought of living among a small group on Mars. But that isn’t the case for Duckworth. “A lot of the reason we’re here in America today is there were a number of families from Europe and other parts of the world who made that decision to come here and they didn’t expect to come back to their countries,” she said.

Duckworth said Mars One will likely choose the 24 recipients of the one-way tickets by the end of 2015 because a lot of training needs to take place so that each group of four is ready to launch by 2024.

“I kind of was surprised to be in the final 100 because I didn’t think I did a very good job during my interview. I was sitting there stressing about it for a week or two afterwards,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth credits her strong engineering and creative backgrounds as to why she’s a strong candidate to go to Mars. “I won’t get bored and I can also help solve a lot of the technical issues that might come up,” she said.

Duckworth acknowledges that there are some things about Earth she would miss. She said her dad hates the idea, her mom is cautiously supportive and her friends think it’s excellent. She’d try to take along wind chimes because it would remind her of Earth’s atmosphere.

“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.