Weather Forecast


HHS grad has his sights set on Mars mission

What sounds like science fiction could become science fact if everything goes as planned for an adventure to colonize Mars. And there’s a possibility a Hudson man could be part of it.

Jackson Kisling, 37, has worked for Progress Rail Services building stop control panels for railroads for 15 years. He graduated from Hudson High School in 1994. He is also a musician who performs in the area with the Emergence Brass Band. And he is working to complete a novel about space colonization, having been interested in space exploration since he was a child.

So when he heard about the Mars One plan for a human settlement on the planet, he had to check it out. That led to his application that included a video and a song written especially about the mission. In December, Kisling was notified he was among the 1,058 chosen from more than 250,000 applications to be a semi-finalist for the mission.

According to the Mars One website, those chosen to be the first humans to set foot on the plant and make it home, will undergo extensive training. “Candidates will learn the skills they will need on Mars and on their journey there. The combined skill set of each astronaut team member will cover a very wide range of disciplines. In 1,000 years, everyone on Earth will still remember who the first humans on Mars were.”

The trip will take seven months and will be made in a spacecraft about 10 feet by 12 feet. The mission is being organized by a private Dutch company that says all the technology to make the trip and establish the colony already exists. Kisling is confident that’s true.

The first mission will have four astronauts who will be followed by four more every two years. There are no round trips.

The thought of not only leaving home, but leaving the planet for good was a little daunting at first but Kisling believes that nothing less than the future of humanity depends on expeditions like Mars One.

“It would be hard to leave my family and friends behind but I know I can do it. I’m divorced. I don’t have children. I have a good career but I could leave for an opportunity like this. You just don’t pass on a chance to leave the planet and do something no one else has ever done.”

Kisling’s parents, Lee and Lori Kisling, are “getting used to the idea,” but his mother never misses an opportunity to try to change her son’s mind, a sentiment he understands totally but that is unlikely to influence him.

Kisling said that since hitting on the idea of becoming part of the mission, he has connected via the Internet with people all over the world who believe in idea of colonization.

Kisling said the other applicants for the mission include Nobel Prize winners, noted scientists and intellects along with people like him from all walks of life. Kisling, who now lives in Woodbury, Minn., says there are four others from Minnesota among the semi-finalists. He does not know if there are any from Wisconsin.

Life on Mars will be challenging to say the least. “No one knows for sure if there is water there to support life. And the atmosphere is such that you could never go outside like here. The gravity is different as well and that will mean a huge adjustment for the human body. It is incredible to think about how humans who live there permanently will adapt over the years living outside of our own planet.”

Kisling said communication between the colony and earth will be possible using a communications satellite. It will not only provide a connection to earth but will allow the colonists to share what they learn with everyone from scientists to school children. The data they collect and share will be a major source of funding the colony.

Next for Kisling are more interviews and a thorough medical examination, probably in April. He hopes to hear if he made the second cut by later this year. The mission is scheduled to depart for Mars ten years from now.

Kisling is pragmatic about his decision to be part of the mission. “The way I look at it, it is kind of like donating my body to science — just while I am healthy and alive.”

For more information about the mission, go to View Kisling perform “I’ll Miss You (the Mars song)” on YouTube.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

(715) 808-8604