Local Woman Finalist for One-Way Trip to Mars

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If Laura Maxine Smith-Velazquez of Owings Mills gets her way, she’ll spend her last days on Earth in 2024.

That’s when, if all goes according to plan, she’ll be sent in a rocket to Mars, where she’ll be a part of the first manned trip to the Red Planet. More than 200,000 people have already applied for the one-way space trip. They were whittled down to 660 intrepid candidates. And then that group got winnowed even further. Smith-Velazquez has made the cut every time; currently, she’s one of 100 finalists for the 4 spots on the rocket ship.

Smith-Velazquez, a systems engineer, has a number of things going for her: She scuba dives (so she’s good in restricted oxygen environments); she’s a pilot (so she knows how all those dials work); she’s into physics and engineering (so she can fix things).

Despite all the fanfare, the Mars One’s plan for reality-show funded space travel is not likely to ever really take off. (Read about some of the problems with the mission here.) But if it ever did, Smith-Velazquez sounds like she’d be an ideal candidate.

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