1. ITV Report

'Why doesn't everyone want to leave for Mars forever?'

Sonia Van Meter is one of 705 being considered for the mission, whittled down from 200,000 applicants Photo: Good Morning Britain/ITV

"You ask me why I want to go, I ask you why everyone doesn't want to go," a woman who wants to leave her husband and step-children forever to spend the rest of her life on Mars told Good Morning Britain.

Sonia Van Meter, from Austin, Texas, has made it through to the second round of a competition to be part of the Mars One initiative, a private spaceflight effort by a Dutch company hoping to colonise the Red Planet by 2025.

The current plan is for four carefully selected applications to set off for Mars in 2024, arriving the following year after a seven-month journey.

They will be joined by additional teams every two years, until by 2033 there are over 20 people living and working there.

The entire process will be documented for a reality television programme, which it is hoped will finance the $6 billion plus mission.

It's an incredible opportunity, but with a catch - those that go to Mars will never return to Earth.

Ms Van Meter, 35, who is married with two step-children, was one of 200,000 to submit a video application when the astronaut selection process began in April last year.

Now, she is one of just 705 people from whom the final 24 will be chosen.

She works for a political consulting firm and doesn't have a science background, but she says this is her life's ambition, sparked by Star Trek as a small child and cemented by watching Apollo 13 "a hundred times" when it came out in her early 20s.

"Its the next great leap for humanity," Ms Van Meter said. "I'm tremendously proud to even be a small part of it."

But admitted she is not yet sure "how I am going to leave...everything anyone anywhere has ever know."

She said her husband, Jason Sanford, "has been my greatest supporter and loudest champion, I could not possible consider doing this if I didn't have his full support.

"My step children are impressed, I don't think it is real to them yet, I think it will become more real as the training process goes forward, if I am selected for it...but for now everyone is on board."

She says that it is "horrifying" to think that she has only ten years left with them, but that "this is an opportunity for me to demonstrate to my step-children that there is no dream so great that it shouldn't be chased."