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Maroondah BizWeek 2017 kicks off

7 August 2017

Today we officially launched our 2017 Maroondah BizWeek event with an inspiring event from Mars One Program candidate Dianne McGrath.

From secondary school aged children to business owners, Dianne urged the audience to follow their dreams and strive for the extraordinary.

If you missed the event, you can read more about Dianne’s ‘Mars One’ story.

Introducing Dianne McGrath

Dianne McGrath

Dianne McGrath was born the day before Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon, so perhaps it was written in the stars, or even the universe trying to tell her something, when she decided to apply for a place in the Netherlands-based Mars One program.

Dianne, of Melbourne, is one of seven Australians to advance to round three of the astronaut pool, which could see her make history by establishing the first permanent human settlement on the red planet!

Dianne shares an insight into how she is preparing, both physically and mentally, for such an historic mission, and what she believes it takes to become one of the ‘chosen ones’.

What led you to become an influential public speaker?
“It all started when I was short-listed for Mars One Mission and I discovered people were interested in my story. I learnt that there was a lot of positive power in sharing it.”

What made you decide you wanted to be part of the first human expedition to the red planet, and have you always been interested in space travel?
“I’ve certainly always been fascinated by science fiction. Growing up in outback Australia, not only have I had plenty of isolated experience on red soil, but I read my father’s science fiction book collection prolifically!# However, the driving aspect for me is grounded in non-fiction. I want to be part of the journey that could drastically change life on Earth as we know it. That includes providing women out there with a role model in what are currently male dominated fields, and to shift their own expectations on their futures.

“I’d ultimately love to impact this world through leading by example in the beliefs I hold so passionately about equality and environmental sustainability.”

You’ve passed the first round of medical tests for Mars 100. What is the next step in the process, and when will you find out if you’ve become one of the ‘chosen ones’?
“After passing the medical tests, I also passed the interview stage of selection. We will find out about when the next stage is this year, and will be provided a minimum of 6 months’ notice.”

The next round details can be found on the Mars One websie.

How do you prepare yourself physically, as well as mentally, for such a mission?
“I’ve undertaken my own training – something akin to building my own ‘resilience tool kit’. This started with researching what currently challenges astronauts face during space flight, what are the largest and known risks, especially health risks? One of the most common health risks was mental health. Consequently, I work with a psychologist to ensure I have the tools to deal with these challenges as they arise, both here on Earth in the training and preparation in addition to the isolation of travel and life on Mars.

“Secondly, my physical training has centred a lot around improving bone health and muscle mass. Bone loss in the lack of gravity risks bone deterioration and fracture when returning to the gravity of Mars or Earth. Research and experiment has allowed me to hack my bone health so that at the last measurement, I had 109% bone density of a healthy 30-year-old – not bad for someone who’s about to turn 48!”

How did you break the news to your family, and what’s been their reaction? Have any friends or relatives tried to talk you out of it?
“I’ve been so lucky that all those around me have supported me every step of the way. Right at the very beginning, when describing what I had been selected for Mum was very excited! I am incredibly grateful for the encouragement and support shown by my friends and family – no one has tried to talk me out of it.”

What do you say to the people who may label you as ‘crazy’ for wanting to do this?
“I’ve done my research! I read about Mars One and read around the risks I would face extensively before applying. With a strong background in risk management, I’ve analysed this and decided that the risks involved have plausible management strategies. For example, the use of current technology, or technology in development, demonstrates it’s a feasible mission. There have been over 44 missions to Mars since the ‘60’s. We’ve sent things to Mars many times before. It is just that nothing has returned.

“And context is everything. There were undoubtedly people labelled as crazy for wanting to go to the moon, but they persisted and consequently we enjoy many of the technological advancements as a result. The Mars One mission will impact human interaction and inclusion, sustainability and resource management and technology development, and I want to be part of that transition, and leave such a legacy. The early explorers and pioneers were also thought of as crazy by many, and now we see humanity spread across the globe.”

The 2031 launch date is creeping closer, so how do you feel now that you’ve been shortlisted? Are there any second doubts or anxiety about going? '
“Not once have I had second doubts or anxiety. I have confidence in the plan Mars One have put forward, and feel honoured to be short-listed. I am also philosophically aligned with what the mission wants to achieve and have consequently taken the steps and lessons to put myself and the mission in the best position possible to make it happen.

“Many unmanned missions to Mars will go before any human missions, so by the time humans are getting in a rocket, the technical aspects of the journey will have been extensively tried and tested many times.”

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