Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Curiosity entices Karl on Mars trip

Karl Burnett wants to be part of the mission to Mars, where the proposed Mars One project wants to set up a human colony. Photo / Michael Craig
Karl Burnett wants to be part of the mission to Mars, where the proposed Mars One project wants to set up a human colony. Photo / Michael Craig

Former Shortland Street star Karl Burnett is bidding to boldly go where no man has gone before - Mars.

The 37-year-old actor this week became the first New Zealander to apply for a one-way trip to the red planet, planned for 2022.

Click here to see Karl's video application.

The makers of a Dutch reality show are accepting applications from people to take a trip to Mars. The $7 billion project called "Mars One" was launched in New York last week.

The non-profit "Mars One" scheme is seeking six groups of four astronauts. The first crew would blast off in 2022 and a new quartet would make the journey every two years. The project has attracted sceptics but is backed by Dutch Nobel laureate Gerard 't Hooft, who won the 1999 prize for physics.

Sci-fi fan Burnett, from Auckland, paid $24 to submit a hilarious, self-filmed video to organisers outlining why he should be chosen. Ten thousand people from 100 countries have already applied to take the free trip.

In his promo clip, Burnett jokes he wants to be the first human to poo on another planet and be installed as an evil dictator.

"I'm told Mars is inhospitable, miserable and lifeless - just like Palmerston North but with better weather," he told the Herald on Sunday. "I'm now worried I will be picked to go because it will take seven months to get there and there is no way back if you don't like it.

"Another concern is as soon as I set foot on the surface my bones will turn to dust because the gravity is different to Earth."

Burnett, who quit Shortland Street in 2005 after playing drug-taking rebel Nick Harrison for 13 years, said he would take some earthly items with him in case of any close encounters.

"I was thinking of taking a few Shortland Street DVDs, but I wouldn't want extraterrestrials to form the impression we humans are a depressing race of beings that nothing good ever happens to," he said.

Burnett will next play a baddie in sci-fi comedy movie This Giant Paper Mache Boulder Is Actually Really Heavy.

He said he expects to hear within the next few months if he has been shortlisted for the first space crew to Mars.

- Herald on Sunday

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