Iowan in the running for one-way trip to Mars - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowan in the running for one-way trip to Mars

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An former Iowan is on the short list for a one way trip -- to Mars.

Najeeb Najeeb lived in Fairfield, Iowa for many years. Originally from Iraq, he's now studying computer engineering in Lincoln, Nebraska. He's a finalist for the much-discussed Mars One program, a non-profit mission to Mars, which will be funded by what amounts to reality tv.

Thousands of people applied for four initial spots. So far, the pool has been whittled down to 100 -- including Najeeb.

"This is not really an astronaut mission," he said. "This is settlement."

It would take seven months to travel to the red planet. Because of that, it's a one way trip. Najeeb said the idea of never seeing his family and friends again scares him, but he looks at the mission as an incredible opportunity to advance the science of space travel.

"It may not be in my lifetime, it may not be in your lifetime ... it may be a few thousand years, but thousands of years go really fast," he said. "Just look at the pyramids."

Sure, he'd be trusting his life to so-far untested technology, but Najeeb said it's worth the risk.

"For some reason something goes wrong, you die," he said. "But who's not going to die, right?"

Many things can fail and ground the project -- as it stands, the first human's wouldn't leave until 2022. But even now, Najeeb says knowing his time on earth is coming to an end makes him view the world differently.

"The thing that I think of Today, is can I live without this?" Najeeb said. "I see things and think, 'Can I live without this?'"

The Mars One program hopes to launch their first communications satellite by next year.

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