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Three Chicagoans Vying For Mission To Mars

(CBS) -- It is an ambitious project that is literally out of this world. It's called Mars One. When and if it achieves lift off a decade from now, people will travel to Mars to live there permanently.

But who would want to leave Earth for good for life on another planet? 200,000 people have applied and three Chicagoans still in the running.

Omri Amrany, Kirby Baumann and Amanda Subbarao are among the 705 contestants remain.

Amrany is an Israeli-born artist who is the co-creator of the Michael Jordan statue outside the United Center; Baumann is a 25-year-old office manager, fitness enthusiast and artist and Subbarao is a mother of two who works in publishing and had a PhD in astronomy.

CBS 2's Rob Johnson spoke with them at the Mars exhibit at the Adler Planetarium.

When asked what makes you suited to go to Mars, Baumann said, "I'm one of the most adaptable people you could find. I could go three days with no food, I could sit in a cramped space."

Subbarao said, "I was trained as a scientist…so the sheer scientific joy of going is a pleasure to me."

Amrany answered, "Well, I am an artist. It's just a big window to open and you can do anything."

If they make the cut, the earliest these Chicagoans would be leaving Earth for the seven month trip to Mars is 2024. They all understand this is a one way trip, and are likely never coming back.

Mars One is a privately funded $6 billion operation that hopes to send the first colony of four in ten years, then another colony of four two years after that, and so on. They'll be there to explore, grow their own food and develop their own society.

When asked if they have a fear, Baumann said, "You can always find a reason not do anything out there and there's always something to be afraid of."

Subbarao answered, "It's just a question of whether you let that stop you or not."

"The fear of surviving the economy in the Midwest is a big fear itself. We're surviving from day to day," said Amrany.

These three fancy themselves as modern day pilgrims or adventurers like Christopher Columbus.

"I want to see and do things nobody has ever done before. I want to be the first to pick up that rock. I want to be the first one," said Baumann.

And there's idealism.

"We are thinking about the future of the human society," said Amrany.

So what do their families think about their out-of-this-world dreams?

Amrany's wife Julie Rotblatt said, "I don't want to kill a dream. I would not want him to leave. I love him."

Jeffrey Subbarao, Amanda's son, said, "I will be ridiculously proud of her that she applied, got accepted and is now one of the first people on another planet."

Kirby Baumann's brother Tyler said, "That would be a really cool accomplishment to have on your checklist even if you never could come back and go to Starbucks."

The next cut will be down to 20-24 candidates. Once that happens they will begin producing a reality TV show to illustrate the process of picking the final candidates.

Omri, Kirby, and Amanda didn't seem that enthused about that part, but said they would do whatever they needed to, to get to Mars.

For more information on the Mars One Mission, click here.

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