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Could You Be The Next Astronaut to Go To Mars?

Meet the man you need to impress if you to be one of the first pioneers on the red planet.

For any science enthusiasts, or those that, like me, felt a connection to Matthew McConaughey’s character in Interstellar, the opportunity to travel to a new world may be within reach.


Norbert Kraft is the chief medical officer for Mars One, a mission created by a Dutch nonprofit that wants to colonize Mars. Previously, Kraft trained and worked as a doctor in the Austrian military, and for 20 years, he studied the suitability of astronauts for long duration space missions, working with US, Russian, and Japanese space agencies. He is also one of the leaders in the process of selecting the first potential Mars colonizers.

In April 2013, Mars One opened up applications for aspiring astronauts. By the time the application period had closed, more than 200,000 people had applied. Mars One’s goal is to pick 28 to 40 candidates by the end of 2015 and train them for their mission.

Here are the steps Kraft is currently undergoing to find the crews for the Mars mission:

Physical Exam

The first step in narrowing the field of prospective space travelers is to weed out the people who are not fit enough for the journey, which includes people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even asthma. This medical criteria is in line with traditional space agencies, and candidates have to provide medical certificates signed by qualified physicians.

“For the first settlers we are very, very strict,” Kraft said in an interview with BBC. “Later on we might loosen the requirements when we have, say, 600 settlers on Mars and better medical facilities.”

Knowledge

After receiving medical clearance, candidates then move on to a more traditional interview. The field of potential astronauts has shrunk rapidly by this point, with only 660 people making it to stage two. Interviews began in December 2014, and while Mars One applicants do not need formal qualifications, such as a degree or particular skills, they are expected to know about Mars, the mission, and a clear understanding of what the mission entails.

“Here we filter out people who have no clue about where they’re going, what they’re doing, what’s happening,” Kraft said. He also hopes to get a hint of whether or not the applicants will work as a team and why they want to go to Mars.

Group Challenges and Dynamics

We’ve always been told working in groups is a valuable life skill. There’s nowhere in the universe where teamwork is more important than the Mars mission. Kraft explains that the time delay between mission control and the settlers will be about 40 minutes, so it’s critical that they can work together calmly and safely without help from those back on Earth.

To begin assembling the perfect colonizing team, candidates will be invited to in-person training sessions for a series of group challenges that demonstrate their ability to work together. Any team is likely to involve a mix of sexes, personalities and skills.

“I have a perfect group in mind,” Kraft said. “You might be the perfect astronaut but not able to work with the group, so be totally useless—it’s the perfect group, not the individual that I’m after.”

Isolation

Arguably the most important step in the selection process is isolation: shutting groups of prospective astronauts away in simulated spacecraft and isolation chambers for weeks at a time to see how they hold up. The purpose of this is to see how different teams function together in a sealed environment—much like they would have to on a real long-duration mission.

If candidates make it past these steps, they will be required to spend another 10 years training intensely in order to develop the skills necessary for isolated life on Mars.

“I’m going to give them so many challenges,” Kraft said. “My hope is that when they get to Mars, they’ll say ‘compared to what Norbert put us through, Mars is a paradise!’”

Articles
via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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Culture
via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

Communities
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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Politics
via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

Lifestyle

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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