A Utah man's dream to be one of the first explorers on Mars means leaving behind a wife and four kids. But it's a risk he's willing to take, despite the fact he would never see his family again.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Ken Sullivan was one of 200,000 people who applied to be an astronaut on the Mars One Project, in which 24 adventure-seekers will be given a one-way ticket to Mars starting in 2024. At the time of his application, he did not tell his wife.
But now the 38-year-old father of four has made it to the final 1,058 being considered and the cat's out of the bag.
"The question is do we get divorced now or get divorced later," his wife, Becky Sullivan, told The Tribune. "If I stand in the way of his dreams and passions, then we get divorced now, so I have to be supportive."
Sullivan has two older daughters from his first marriage -- ages 12 and 13 -- and two kids with his current wife, a 6-month-old baby and a 3-year-old son. If chosen, he hopes the trip would be delayed until all his kids were a bit older, but adds, "I just hope the family will be able to forgive me down the road. Hopefully there isn’t too much hatred of my being selfish in pursuing a dream that isn’t theirs."
The decision to leave loved ones behind is a dilemma candidates of the Mars One project -- a non-profit organization hoping to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars -- know all too well. When the final 1,000-plus candidates were first notified, they were told via email to consult family members about the important decision ahead.
"It’s time to talk with your loved ones regarding your dream of starting a human civilization on Mars," the email read. "Passing the first round of selection is a major step closer to going down in history as one of the chosen few who will experience and live something that has never been done before."
Of course, the odds of Sullivan being chosen are still slim, since only 24 people in total will ultimately go to the Red Planet over the span of several years.
"I’ll be very relieved if I don’t make it to Mars because it won’t take me from my family," Sullivan explained. "But if I don’t make it, it will be tough and I’ll be disappointed."