Local man is on list of finalists to go live -- and die -- on Mars: 'The drive to go is ... overpowering'

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- A 28-year-old Bellevue man is among the 100 final candidates who may get a chance to blast off on a one-way trip to Mars.

"Doing something worth remembering is the important part," Carl Lecompte explained Monday.

Lecompte was shocked that he made it to the final 100. "Shocking, surprise ... a wow factor," he said of the announcement.

Now he waits to see if he will make the final cut of 24 to make the mission. The first group will blast off for Mars as soon as nine years from now, in 2024.

He applied to the Dutch nonprofit Mars One after reading about its worldwide search for space travelers in 2013. The 28-year-old computer programmer was one of 200,000 people who applied with a resume, a questionnaire and a video about himself.

"Getting to Mars is not the hard part," Lecompte said. "We've done that. The problem with a manned missions so far is getting back."

But that's not really a problem in this case.

Lecompte and the others had to agree to never return to Earth.

And a recent study from MIT found the first settlers on Mars will begin dying within 68 days of landing on the Red Planet.

So why go to die on Mars?

"I have a lot of reasons to want to be here, but the drive to go is just so overpowering, so that's what I'm focused on," he said.

His family is far less excited.

"They're frightened for me. They're frightened of losing me. It's hard because I don't want to lose them either, but this is important enough."

A 21st century explorer, ready to risk it all, for a chance to go where no human has gone before.

To read an earlier CNN story on the 100 finalists for this mission, click here.