A TRANSGENDER taxi driver is among the final 23 people in the UK who could realise their dream of joining a space mission to Mars.
The Mars One project has proved to create the most desirable job vacancy in the world, with about 200,000 applicants from more than 140 countries.
The aim is to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars in 2023.
Among those in the running for the one-way, seven-month flight to the red planet for the ambitious reality TV show is east Hull’s Melissa Ede.
Having already been one of 1,058 to have made the cut at the start of the year, Melissa, who is transgender, has now passed a vigorous medical and is one of just 23 left in the UK.
The 52-year-old’s application on the Mars One website has been viewed by thousands of people.
She now has a 50 per cent chance of featuring in a reality TV programme, which will chart the rigorous tests and simulations needed to go up into space.
Miss Ede said: “I am one of just 700 left across the world and 23 in the UK.
“I have just had my medical and there were no problems whatsoever.
“It was more in-depth than I thought it was going to be.
“I was told it is the same medical they give to those just before they start astronaut training. But it shows how seriously they are taking this.”
The next stage will be interviews, which will take place in a few months’ time.
Miss Ede said: “We will be interviewed by the Mars One team, which could actually be the beginning of the reality television show.
“The numbers will be whittled down further, but with there only being 23 of us and most reality shows have ten or 15 people, then I should be in with a good chance of making it through the show.”
The chance to head to Mars would be a chance to fulfil a number of dreams for Miss Ede.
She said: “My life consists of promoting diversity and I have always dreamed of making history.
“Being picked would allow me to do both of these.
“I feel really excited by it all. You just don’t know what is going to happen next.
“This has never been done before so everything is unknown.”
The wannabe astronauts face a two- year selection process.
The successful astronauts will be put through eight years of training.
Miss Ede admits there have been times when she wondered whether she was being taken in.
She said: “There was a feeling early on that perhaps this was a scam.
“But the project has grown and grown, with big organisations giving their backing.”
Such is Miss Ede’s commitment to the project she has a lasting reminder.
She said: “I have had a tattoo done that says Mars One.
“I am also asking my Twitter followers what hashtag I should use if I get through to the television show.”
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