Winning a trip to Mars is quite literally an out-of-this-world opportunity, but what does it mean for those you leave behind? The Mars One Project is a privately-funded mission that will take 100 people to live on the Red Planet starting in 2026.
One of those people is 36-year-old Sonia Van Meter who volunteered for the expedition. The Virginia woman is a wife and stepmom to two sons aged 13 and 11. Her husband, Jason Stanford, says he's come to terms with his wife leaving them.
In an op-ed for Texas Monthly, Jason writes that when Sonia applied for the Mars One project, the idea was nothing more than "cocktail chatter" -- but then she actually became a semifinalist for the mission and things got ugly. Not between her and her husband -- but the rest of the world.
He says she received a lot of backlash and was accused of trying to abandon her family and "seeking glory." So, Jason wrote his first op-ed for Texas Monthly in April of last year supporting his wife.
Then she actually secured a spot and things got real for the family. Jason explains, "I wasn't prepared for just how much it would change the world she and I live in, so to speak." He says came to terms with his wife leaving the family in a decade for a greater purpose.
He says, "What could be my personal horror story would become the world's grandest adventure, and understanding how this might change my life forced me to realize that Mars One could change everyone's life. If it succeeds in its mission ... it would change the history of humanity by expanding our boundaries beyond this planet. This was bigger than me ... it's time to accept my role ... We're just an ordinary married couple in an extraordinary situation, and we're taking it one small step for man at a time."
IN SPACE - SEPTEMBER 2: In this handout image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, and captured by NASA's Curiosity rover, a rock outcrop called Link pops out from a Martian surface that is elsewhere blanketed by reddish-brown dust, showing evidence for an ancient, flowing stream, September 2, 2012. The fractured Link outcrop has blocks of exposed, clean surfaces. Rounded gravel fragments, or clasts, up to a couple inches (few centimeters) in size are in a matrix of white material. Many gravel-sized rocks have eroded out of the outcrop onto the surface, particularly in the left portion of the frame. The outcrop characteristics are consistent with a sedimentary conglomerate, or a rock that was formed by the deposition of water and is composed of many smaller rounded rocks cemented together. Water transport is the only process capable of producing the rounded shape of clasts of this size. (Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via Getty Images)
IN SPACE - SEPTEMBER 14: This handout image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, and captured by NASA's Curiosity rover, shows evidence for an ancient, flowing stream at the rock outcrop pictured here September 14, 2012, and a few other sites on Mars, which the science team has named 'Hottah' after Hottah Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories. This geological feature on Mars is exposed bedrock made up of smaller fragments cemented together, or what geologists call a sedimentary conglomerate. Scientists theorize that the bedrock was disrupted in the past, giving it the titled angle, most likely via impacts from meteorites. (Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via Getty Images)
MARS - SEPTEMBER 19: In this handout from NASA/JPL-Caltech, a rock that is approximately 10 inches (25 centimeters) tall and 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide sits in front of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity September 19, 2012 on Mars. According to NASA, the rover team chose the rock, that has been named Jake Matijevic, as the first taget to be examined by Curiosity's contact instruments. Jake Matijevic was a surface operations systems chief engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory Project and the Curiosity rover. (Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech via Getty Images)
IN SPACE - FEBRUARY 3: In this handout image provided by NASA, a self-portrait of the Mars rover Curiosity combines dozens of exposures taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 177th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on February 3, 2013 on the planet Mars. Curiosity landed on the planet on August 5, 2012. (Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via Getty Images)
These are the first two full-resolution images of the Martian surface from the Navigation cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover, which are located on the rover's 'head' or mast. The rim of Gale Crater can be seen in the distance beyond the pebbly ground. The topography of the rim is very mountainous due to erosion. The ground seen in the middle shows low-relief scarps and plains. The foreground shows two distinct zones of excavation likely carved out by blasts from the rover's descent stage thrusters. (NASA/MCT via Getty Images)